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WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN 

THESSALY 



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Fiei.d-Marshal Eukem Pasha. 



WITH THE TURKISH 
ARMY IN THESSALY 



BY 

CLIVE BIGH AM, 2 J v'/ SCO UK}-/ Mcrs^^ 



AUTHOR OP "a ride THROUGH WESTERN ASIA 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS 



MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited 

NEW YORK : THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

1897 

All rights resemed. 



THL-v .iVV YORK 

PUBLIC l;:rary 



r: 



ASTOR, LtNOX AND 
TILDEN FOUNDATIONS. 

1897. 



Richard Clay and Sons, Limited, 

LONDON and BUNGAY. 



; 



PREFACE 

This book was written directly after the con- 
elusion of the armistice between Turkey and Greece, 
and before the publication of any official papers on 
the military operations. It only professes to be a 
rough sketch, and cannot lay claim to absolute 
accuracy of figures, though these, for the most 
part, are probably correct. ^ 

The writer would take this opportunity of ex- 
pressing his sense of the courtesy and assistance 
shown him by the Imperial military and civil 
authorities throughout the time he spent in Turkey, 
and also of thanking the management of the Times 
for allowing him to make use of telegrams and 
letters sent by him from the seat of war and 
published in the columns of that journal. 

C. C. B. 

White's, 
June 25, 1897. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 

PAGE 

THE CAUSES OF THE WAR I 



CHAPTER II 

THE BASE OF OPERATIONS 8 

CHAPTER III 

THE ARMY IN THE FIELD l6 

CHAPTER IV 

EDHEM PASHA AND HIS STAFF 27 

CHAPTER V 

THE INCURSIONS AT G|iEVENA AND KARYA 34 

CHAPTER VI 

THE BATTLE OF MILONA 42] 

CHAPTER VII 

THE ADVANCE ON LARISSA 50 

CHAPTER VIII 

THE OCCUPATION OF NORTHERN THESSALY 60 



8 CONTENTS 

CHAPTER IX 

PAGE 

THE FIRST BATTLE OF VELESTINO 66 

CHAPTER X 

THE ACTION OF PHARSALA 76 

CHAPTER XI 

THE SECOND BATTLE OF VELESTINO 83 

CHAPTER XII 

THE BATTLE OF DOMOKO 9 1 

CHAPTER XIII 

THE OCCUPATION OF SOUTHERN THESSALY I03 

CHAPTER XIV 

CONCLUSION 113. 

APPENDIX 

SYNOPSIS OF EVENTS 129 



<> 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



Field-Marshal Edhem Pasha Frontispiece 

Frontier North of Meteora To face page 14 

Turkish Field Battery in Line „ 22 

Elassona „ 28 

Greek Advance on Karya „ 38 

Greeks below Milona „ 46 

The Battle of Mati „ 53 

Green Mosque and Bridge of Larissa ... „ 61 

The Battle of Velestino „ 72 

Velestino „ 85 

The Road to the South „ loi 

Turkish Field Battery in Action . . . ^ . „ 117 



MAPS 



Position of Greek and Turkish Forces on April i 

„ 25 
May 4 
10 



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20 



Map of Balkan Peninsula 



To face page 
41 

6d 

76 

90 

109 

at end 



PLANS 



Battle of Milona 44 

First Battle of Velestino 70 

Battle of Domoko 97 



WITH THE TURKISH ARMY 

IN THESSALY 



CHAPTER I 



THE CAUSES OF THE WAR 



Early in March it became patent to the general 
public of Europe that the Cretan question had 
ceased to have a merely local significance. 

The landing of Greek troops under Colonel 
Vassos had not only succeeded in fanning the flame 
of insurrection in that island into a serious revo- 
lution, but it had for the moment stultified the 
projects of reform laid down by the ambassadors, 
and had provided the admirals with an extremely 
difficult and hazardous task. But this was by no 
means all. It was evident that hostile preparations 
on a much wider scale were contemplated, if indeed 
they had not been made, in the Balkan Peninsula, 
and that the Hellenic Government were determined 
to use all the means in their power to provoke a 
conflict on the Macedonian and Albanian frontiers, 

B 






2 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

and it was more than hinted that they would be 
materially aided by the disaffection said to exist in 
those provinces. 

On the other hand, the Sultan's friends insisted 
that he had a fair and reasonable casus belliy and 
though quite willing to use diplomacy to its break- 
ing strain, and thereby to emphasise their modera- 
tion, they relied confidently on a military force, 
their knowledge of which presumably justified their 
hopes. 

Acting, therefore, on advice which professed to 
be more technical than political, the Porte com- 
menced to mobilise the Army Corps in Macedonia, 
and ordered the division at Janina to be brought up 
to war strength, the alleged justification being that 
the presence of raw levies and bands of brigands 
in Thessaly necessitated precautionary measures of 
a defensive character. Once, however, that the 
ball had been set rolling, its rapid increase in size 
and speed proved that the Turkish Government 
intended to be ready for all eventualities, whether 
in their own or their neighbour's territories ; and 
the concentration of troops in Northern Greece, 
pushed forward with apparently equal celerity, left 
no doubt as to the desires if not the intentions 
of the Cabinet at Athens. By the middle of March 
we were informed that there were no less than 
50,000 soldiers round Elassona, the town which 
Edhem Pasha, the " commander-in-chief of the 
Turkish forces in Macedonia," had selected for his 









• • • 



I THE CAUSES OF THE WAR 3 

headquarters. Half this number were said to be at 
Janina, the capital of Albania. 

The Greeks were reported to be massing at Larissa 
and Trikkala in Thessaly, and at Arta in Epirus, 
and were estimated as likely to reach nearly the same 
figure. Their fleet was arming, and encouragement 
in the shape of cheap sympathy and in the more 
solid form of material assistance was being furnished 
from all parts of Europe ; Turkey also was taking 
her navy in hand, and was receiving more slowly 
and less spontaneously similar help. 

In the meantime the warships of the six Great 
Powers were blockading Crete, though without any 
remarkable success, and European statecraft was 
devoting itself to preventing if possible the out- 
break of hostilities. If it had only had to deal with 
constituted governments this endeavour might not 
have been abortive, but there was an element which 
was incapable of control, and which shortly eluded 
all restraints and brought on the war — ^I mean the 
Ethnike Etairia. 

This was a Secret Society scattered all .over 
Greece and the Levant, and comprising among its 
members officers and soldiers, politicians and diplo- 
mats, and working on the impressionable populace of 
Athens by all the sentiment, oratory, and mystifica- 
tion which generally appeal to a Southern race in a 
very marked degree. It had a reputation for 
wealth and influence, probably true, and for ability 
and organisation, certainly false, and its good will 

B 2 



4 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

was thought so vital to the King's Government 
that it was allowed to have forces of its own in the 
field. 

It had been established two years before with the 
avowed object of recovering to Greece the provinces 
of Macedonia and Epirus, and its agents had been 
disseminated over those parts of Turkey. After 
its apparent success in Crete, it was encouraged to 
try and force the hand of the Cabinet with regard to 
Turkey ; but when it found itself likely to meet with 
opposition it cut the Gordijan knot by raiding with 
its own troops across the frontier, with the inevit- 
able result of a declaration of war. 

It has now sunk into well- merited disrepute and 
obscurity, with the record of having been no less 
distinguished in the history of Greece for folly than 
for criminal meddling and incompetence. 

The Hellenic population of Macedonia, and for 
that matter the Turkish population of Thessaly, are 
factors that need hardly be taken into account. Both 
were, to the best of my belief, quite contented and 
happy with their lot, and were far more occupied with 
the prospects of the harvests than with the autonomy 
of Crete. Any idea of insurrection that may have 
been fomented by Greek agents in Macedonia was 
at once knocked on the head by the visible and 
overwhelming presence of the Ottoman troops, and 
as we know never took any tangible form. In 
Epirus there was certainly some discontent and 
even mutiny among the Albanians, but to appreciate 



•• •. ; • ** 
• • • • • * 



• •• 



I THE CAUSES OF THE WAR 5 

the value of this one has to understand the Albanian 
character, in which private plunder and personal 
vendettas hold far more central and important posi- 
tions than any dynastic, religious, or racial consid- 
erations. The Turks to some extent know how 
to make use of these subjects of theirs, but are far 
too wise to rely on them, and are generally more 
exercised with excusing their conduct to Europe 
than with suppressing the anarchy that appears 
indigenous to the soil. 

Macedonia then was quiet, Albania in its normal 
state, Constantinople nervous, while Thessaly and the 
major part of Greece, though really contented, were 
ready to follow the lead of Athens. That city, from 
the temperament of its populace, the ephemeral 6clat 
of Crete, and the machinations of a number of dema- 
gogues and political societies, was noisy and belli- 
cose. The European Powers were dilatory, due 
perhaps to the fact that they were not as united as 
they appeared to be, and one or two of them may 
have surmised a possible accession of influence or 
prestige from a war. Roughly speaking, this was 
the situation in March, a time when the snows begin 
to melt, when the climate in South-eastern Europe 
is most temperate, and when the mountain passes, 
the rivers, and the roads become practicable for the 
passage of large bodies of troops, and for their guns 
and baggage. In another two or three months a 
sultry summer would begin, water would get scarcer, 
and there would be the crops to look after, a very 



6 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

important item at any rate to the Greeks. If, there- 
fore, there was to be a fight it must be at once, and 
this was no less realised by the parties concerned 
than by the onlookers ; accordingly every nerve 
was strained by the generals to prepare rapidly for 
war, while diplomacy more irresolutely did its best 
to preserve peace. 

Everybody was aware that active hostilities be- 
tween Turkey and Greece might mean very serious 
complications throughout Europe, and possibly a 
much greater and more disastrous war, and indeed 
it was only because of the laudably correct attitude 
maintained by the Balkan States and the very strong^ 
line taken by the Great Powers that such a war was 
averted. Still there was a feeling that the air needed 
to be cleared and the contumacy of Greece to be 
chastised, while both the belligerents, despite their 
declarations to the contrary, evidently desired to try 
each other's strength, or at any rate to prove their 
own. 

This is all that I would say about the political 
situation — a series of platitudes which seem necessary 
before dealing with the war itself. In the succeeding 
chapters I shall endeavour to describe the campaign 
in Macedonia and Thessalyas I saw it, only alluding- 
to the course of events in Epirus when obliged to 
do so. 

It is, of course, extremely difficult to avoid sym- 
pathising with the troops one accompanies, and most 
battles can be looked at from two points of view. I 



I THE CAUSES OF THE WAR 7 

can therefore only promise to give an unprejudiced 
account of the war to the best of my ability,[^leaving 
the reader to judge of its actual fairness. 

On March i8th, being in London on a short 
holiday from St. Petersburg, I was asked by the 
management of the Times to go out for them as 
Special Correspondent with the Turkish army. I 
obtained the necessary permission from my superiors 
at the War and Foreign Offices, and left next day, 
with such kit as I could collect in twenty-four hours, 
and on March 22nd I arrived at Salonika. 



CHAPTER II 



THE BASE OF OPERATIONS 



Salonika, the ancient Thessalonika, lies at the 
head of the Thermaean Gulf, at the north-western 
corner of the trident of Chalcidice. It has a popu- 
lation of some 160,000, three quarters of whom are 
Jews, the remainder being Mussalmans and Greeks. 

It is the chief town of the vilayet of the same 
name, and also the headquarters of the 3rd Army 
Corps, which, until latterly, radiated from Monastir. 
Built on the slope of a wooded hill, with a fine white 
stone quay and several beautiful old Roman arch- 
ways, it hardly needs the glittering blue waters of 
the Aegean Sea, stretching away across the gulf 
to snow-capped Olympus and pointed Ossa, to give 
it that extraordinary fascination which the Byzantine 
cities of the Mediterranean always appear to possess. 
When I got there the weather was already warm, 
and promised to become hot very shortly, and in- 
deed in less than a month the thermometer con- 
tinually marked over 90**. Fearing the effects of 
the heat, the Turks were particularly occupying 



CHAP. II THE. BASE OF OPERATIONS 9 

themselves with extending and increasing their 
hospital arrangements, as the last time that troops 
had been concentrated in southern Macedonia 
there had been an epidemic of typhus, and 
the plain of Elassona was notoriously insalubrious 
in summer. Accordingly one of the first places I 
visited was the large military hospital outside the 
town, where there were then four hundred beds. 
They were not, of course, all full, but preparations 
were being made on a large scale to supplement 
the existing accommodation, for the place was to 
serve as the general medical dep6t of the army. It 
is an establishment that would compare favourably 
with anything of the kind in Europe, the wards, 
the doctors, and the system being all of the very 
best; for the Turk is inherently clean, and he is 
capable of having organisation drilled into him, both 
of which virtues are not to be despised. This hospital, 
however, was a sort of show place, and the temporary 
arrangements with divisional headquarters and in the 
field, which I saw later, did not come up to the same 
standard. Indeed they very often left much to be 
desired, and there is no doubt that but for the mag- 
nificent undertaking of Sir Edgar Vincent, who sent 
out the Red Crescent, under the auspices of the 
Ottoman Bank, many of the wounded, who, as it 
was, quickly recovered, would have died, or at any 
rate have suffered permanently from the effects of 
their injuries. But at the time that I saw the 
Salonika Military Hospital I was more occupied 



lo WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

with endeavouring to discover what proportion of 
the troops passing through on their way to the front 
had fallen sick and been left behind, and I was 
astonished to find how small that proportion 
was, not '5 per cent. The great mass had come 
hundreds of miles from the interior of Asia Minor^ 
travelling either by road or in cattle trucks ; they 
had then had a sea voyage of one or two days, and 
finally more road and more train with very little 
rest in between. 

It showed at once that the general stamina was 
very sound, due, no doubt, to the remarkably healthy 
life the peasants lead in the provinces, and perhaps 
to their abstemiousness, for their physical wants are 
very small, bread and water — the latter frequently 
far from clean — being sufficient to support the 
majority. As, however, the men were fed extra- 
ordinarily well throughout the campaign, getting 
meat, rice, and soup every day, as well as tobacco, 
the clean bill of health that distinguished the army 
is easily explained. Malingering did not appear to 
exist, and men would often go on for a long time 
without reporting themselves sick — natural enough 
in a war. Most of the patients at Salonika were 
suffering from gastric diseases, with a certain pro- 
portion of ophthalmia, but syphilis was almost nil — 
I think only about one per cent. The doctors were 
evidently well up to their work, and appeared to 
have a good practical knowledge of medicine, though 
their surgery is not, as a rule, so successful. The 



n THE BASE OF OPERATIONS ii 

assistants were kind and handy, and the stores 
plentiful. A larger medical staff, and a better 
organised system of hospital transport, and espe- 
cially of field ambulances, are the chief real needs. 
The idea of the thing and the way to do it are 
already understood — zl riy a qvs Us hommes qui 
manquent. Every one prefers to fight, and that is 
why all the technical services in Turkey are as yet 
in their infancy. There is, however, no reason why 
the German system should not be as well applied to 
these as it has been to the combatant arms, and no 
doubt after the experiences of this year this will be 
done. But on the whole there was very little fault 
to find. 

The other main feature of interest in Salonika 
was the railway and the concentration of troops. 
The single line from Constantinople, by Dedeagatch 
to Salonika, had only been working some ten 
months, and the rolling stock was very limited. 
With the utmost strain the Austrian company could 
not manage to run more than five trains a day. 
Yet, during the whole of the month that the mobili- 
sation went on, this extra service was kept up 
without any material delay in the passenger traffic, 
and with only one accident, which resulted in a block 
of thirty-six hours. The men were put in big empty 
vans or in cattle trucks, forty to a waggon. Each 
van could take eight horses or four field guns. A 
train averaged twenty waggons, and could therefore 
transport a battalion without its pack animals. 



12 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

Accordingly it took about a week to send a division 
down the line, while the same distance by march 
route would have taken ten or twelve days. Alto- 
gether it was a most creditable performance, and, 
like the hospital arrangements, gave one a good 
first impression of the way operations were to be 
conducted. 

Let us now glance at the Greek base. The 
Greek base was theoretically the sea, and practi- 
cally the line of seaports extending along the 
coasts of the Aegean, for Volo, Halmyros, and 
Lamia, or rather Stalida, all served as military 
dep6ts, where troops and supplies were landed 
either in their advance or retreat. The lines of 
communication were thus always comparatively 
short, and not exposed to flank attacks in the same 
way as the Turkish provision routes from Salonika 
to Elassona and Larissa. The Piraeus served as 
a naval base, but in no case did Athens directly 
furnish the land army with supplies, the transport 
being carried on entirely by sea. 

It will thus be seen that the whole essence of the 
Turkish plan of advance should have been a pro- 
minent and disproportionately strong left wing, with 
which to achieve the first principle of strategy by 
driving the enemy away from his base or cutting his 
lines of communication. This, however, was never 
realised, or at any rate successfully applied, and 
accordingly the Greeks were continually able to fall 
back on a seaport, take to their ships, and reform 



II THE BASE OF OPERATIONS 13 

further south with a fresh and securer base. This 
however is somewhat premature, and will be 
discussed later. 

I had excellent opportunities of seeing what was 
going on, thanks entirely to the unceasing kindness 
of Mr. Blunt, C.B., our Consul-General. Starting 
life as Lord Lucan's interpreter in the Crimean War, 
he has been wherever anything of interest has 
taken place in Turkey for the last forty years, and 
his untiring energy and unique knowledge of the 
country fit him peculiarly well for the important 
position he occupies at present. Mr. Blunt intro- 
duced me to the Field-Marshal commanding at 
Salonika, Kiazim Pasha, and also to the Vali, Riza 
Pasha, both of whom helped me in every way they 
could, and were as hospitable as they were kind. 

At first there was some considerable difficulty in 
getting leave to go up to the front, but at last, by 
dint of telegraphing to London and Constantinople, 
an Irad6 was obtained and I was informed that I 
could go to Elassona, but that my telegrams would 
be subject to the military censorship and that I must 
consider myself under military law. This was a 
natural and inevitable condition, and I accepted at 
once. I had got an excellent dragoman, Herman 
Charry by name, a Pole, who seemed able to talk 
every language under the sun, and I trusted to get- 
ting horses and grooms at Elassona. As for clothes 
I was rather badly off, having left everything in 
St. Petersburg, but before I came out I had ransacked 



14 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

my younger brother's wardrobe, whose absence at 
Oxford precluded any practical enforcement of his 
objections. A Norfolk jacket, two pairs of riding 
breeches, some boots and shirts, a saddle and a 
revolver comprised my kit — a fez, a necessity, I 
bought, and also such tinned things as I could get 
in Salonika. Finally, I took as much gold as I 
could carry in a waistbelt, in Turkish liras, and set 
out on March 31st in one of the Imperial torpedo- 
boats called the Nusret, to cross the gulf to Katerina. 
This boat had been most kindly lent to me by 
Kiazim Pasha, and as we steamed away in the early 
morning making about twelve knots, the captain 
pointed out the Kara Boyun headland where earth- 
works for siege guns had been erected, and whence 
started the line of submarine torpedoes that pro- 
tected the entrance to the roadstead. We had a 
fairly rough passage and got to Katerina at nine 
o'clock. Here the Kaimakam very kindly supplied 
us with horses and an escort of Zaptiehs. A Cir- 
cassian lieutenant of cavalry was travelling with me, 
and we at once set off on horseback across the 
northern shoulder of Mount Olympus to ride the 
forty miles to Elassona. The country was magni- 
ficent, great wooded valleys covered with pine trees 
and below broad stretches of greensward along the 
banks of rushing streams. The peasants were for 
the most part Vlaks, of the Roumanian stock, dressed 
in bluejackets and white skirts. They were nearly 
all occupied in building up the bridges and remaking 



II THE BASE OF OPERATIONS 15 

the roads, which were not in very good condition. 
Such of them as could talk Turkish seemed perfectly 
happy and contented, and told me that there was 
more trade and more transport going on than had 
been known for ten years, and that they were well 
and regularly paid for their beasts and their labour. 
We passed one or two Greek villages, where the 
inhabitants were more silent and a little frightened, 
but they seemed to be utterly lacking in any idea or 
desire of an Hellenic rising. There were compara- 
tively few troops on the road, as it was not a main 
artery to the front, though at Katerina there were 
large grain, biscuit and sandal stores, and two or 
three thousand recruits being drilled. 

We got to Elassona late that evening, and were 
hospitably lodged and entertained by the Governor. 
From what I had seen coming down to Salonika 
from the Servian frontier at Ristovatz, by Uskub 
and the Vardar, and from the state of the country 
between Katerina and Elassona, and finally from 
what I heard from other correspondents coming in 
along the ordinary route by Kalaveria or Sorovitch 
and Serfije, I came to the conclusion that any chance 
of an insurrection in Macedonia was exceedingly 
remote, and that even should it take place it would 
be promptly and effectually put down. The real 
interest lay in front and not behind, and within 
three weeks the Turks were over the frontier and 
nearly all the activity was transferred to Thessaly. 



CHAPTER III 



THE ARMY IN THE FIELD 



The Turco-Greek frontier is about 200 miles 
long. Starting from the Aegean Sea, just south of 
latitude 40^ it runs west thirty miles to Elassona, 
dips twenty to the south, and going another 
twenty to the west returns to its original latitude 
near Diskata. From here it continues west again 
thirty miles more to Metzovo, where it turns south- 
west and at Kalarites due south, until it reaches 
the Ambracian Gulf at Arta. 

This entire boundary laid down in 1881 follows 
the water parting of a high range of hills, the passes 
being for the most part in the hands of the Turks. 

The line is almost equally divided by the great 
Pindus range of mountains that runs north and 
south and cuts it at Metzovo. The eastern portion 
of the Turkish territory is called Macedonia, the 
western Albania, the most southerly part of the 
latter, between the frontier and the Ionian Sea, being 
Epirus. 

Thessaly consists of the three Greek provinces of 



Ill THE ARMY IN THE FIELD 17 

Larissa, Trikkala, and Arta, the second being the 
largest and the last by far the smallest, and their 
southern frontier, slightly north of latitude 39°, 
marks the limit of the Ottoman dominions prior to 
1 88 1. The Turkish population has migrated to a 
very large extent, much more so than the Greeks 
have from Macedonia and Epirus. 

It will be seen, probably much quicker from the 
map than from my description, that a sort of wedge 
with a broad head goes down into Greek territory 
between Larissa and Trikkala — its area being about 
400 square miles and consisting of three plains, 
Elassona to the north, Domenik to the west, and 
Damasi to tlie south. I n this wedge the great mass 
of the Turkish force was concentrated, as being 
able to meet an attack from either flank. 

It will now be necessary to give a few details about 
the strength of the army, but they shall be made as 
short as possible. The figures are the actual and 
not the nominal ones. 

4 Companies make i Battalion or 750 men 
4 Battalions „ i Regiment „ 3,000 „ 
2 Regiments „ i Brigade „ 6,000 „ 

2 Brigades (at 6,000) 
I Squadron (at 120) 

3 Batteries (at 6 guns and 80 men) ["^^ ' D»^«i°" °' "'Soo 
Non-combatants (say 140) 

Roughly, however, one may reckon the fighting 
strength of a division at not much over 10,000 men 
— the remainder being employed for transport, 

c 



i8 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

supply, baggage, and as camp and quarter guards 
and depdt troops. 

Besides the above infantry units a cavalry regiment 
consists of five squadrons or i,ooo sabres and an 
artillery battalion of three batteries. I shall, how- 
ever, limit myself as much as possible to the words 
battalion, battery, squadron, brigade, and division. 

At the beginning of April the troops in Macedonia 
were disposed as follows : — 

I St Division, commanded by Hairi Pasha at Domenik 

2nd „ „ Nechat Pasha „ Skumpa 

3rd „ „ Memdoukh Pasha „ Elassona 

4th „ „ Haidar Pasha „ Elassona 

5th „ „ Hakki Pasha „ Diskata 

6th „ „ Hamdi Pasha „ Leptokarya 

An Independent Brigade, commanded by Mahomet Pasha at 

Elassona 
The Cavalry Division (15 squadrons), Suleyman Pasha, at Ormanli 
and the Corps Artillery (12 batteries), foza Pasha, at Elassona. 

The 7th Division, under Husni Pasha, arrived at 
Elassona on May 4th, and an additional brigade also 
arrived at Diskata about the same time. 

The 8th Division, which never took part in the 
fighting, was not concentrated at Elassona before 
the 20th May. 

Besides all these there were two strong divisions 
of 15,000 men apiece in Epirus, one at Janina and 
the other at Luros, under Ahmed Hifsi and Mustafa 
Pashas respectively, the former being in chief com- 
mand. These had their own corps cavalry and 
artillery. There was, however, no real co-operation 



Ill THE ARMY IN THE FIELD 19 

between the two armies until after the battle of 
Domoko, when the forces in Epirus had also been 
put under Edhem Pasha. During nearly all the 
campaign his command merely extended from the 
Aegean Sea to Metzovo, while everything west of 
that was directed from Janina. 

The general strategetical idea, to use a very 
ponderous phrase, was as follows : — The base of 
operations was Salonika and the railway line run- 
ning thence by Kalaveria and Sorovitch to Monastir. 
Elassona was the headquarters of the eastern and 
Janina of the western army. Katerina, Kalaveria, 
Sorovitch, and Serfije all served as dep6ts for 
recruits and maUriel of the former force, though 
on a comparatively small scale, as everything was 
pushed forward at once. 

Edhem's plan was to concentrate the great mass 
of his troops in the wedge, and merely to protect his 
wings with a sufficient force to guard against any 
flank attack. In any case he could easily move 
reinforcements to the right or left, while from the 
position he held between Larissa and Trikkala the 
Greek centre was seriously threatened. It was true 
that his lines of communication were not particularly 
vsrell supplied with stationary troops to repel an 
attack from the sea, but there was a continual 
movement along them, and the Turks relied 
on the lack of numbers in the Hellenic army 
w^hich would render any landing on a large scale 
impossible. South of Elassona lay two divisions, 

c 2 



20 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

and round it two and a half more. The cavalry was 
at OrmanH, a village ten miles to the north, and the 
5th and 6th Divisions were thirty miles or so to 
the east and west. The passes themselves were not 
held in any very great force, though the garrisons 
of the various blockhouses had been doubled ; but 
all the available artillery positions had been armed 
with mountain or field guns, and though no regular 
system of outposts was adopted, single battalions 
were scattered along the reverse slopes of the moun- 
tains within a mile or two of the frontier. 

The troops were under canvas, and, excepting 
two battalions in barracks, only divisional staffs 
lived in towns or villages. All transport and com- 
missariat centred from Elassona, except those of 
the 5th and 6th Divisions, which drew direct from 
the railway. 

The organisation struck me as distinctly good. 
Each battalion, squadron, and battery had its own 
pack animals which brought food forward day by 
day, fatigue parties being detailed from each unit for 
this service. There were small hospitals at Lepto- 
karya and Diskata, and a large one at Elassona. 
Water was brought in in skins from the springs, and 
the men were not allowed to drink from the river 
that runs through the town. 

Every man carried his own ammunition, never 
less than a hundred cartridges, and one rarely saw a 
soldier, whatever his employment, without his rifle 
on his back. Cooking, repairing, and armoury were 



.i 



Ill THE ARMY IN THE FIELD 21 

all done in battalions, and in some ways the self- 
supporting elements were much better developed 
in the smaller units than in divisions. Divisional 
commanders rarely made proper use of their cavalry 
and artillery, and the employment of the technical 
arms they possessed, such as sappers, telegraphists, 
&c., was invariably directed from the army head- 
quarters. In fact, the German system has not as 
y^t grown much beyond the battalion. 

The infantry, with the exception of the 7th and 
8th Divisions and the ist brigade of the 2nd 
Division who had the Mauser, were all armed with 
the Martini-Henry and long bayonet. Most of these 
rifles were made in America. The uniform was a 
fez, a blue tunic and trousers, generally finishing 
in putties, and sandals or soft shoes ; these were 
much more useful than boots would have been, 
and did not appear to wear out. One hardly ever 
saw a case of footsore. Many, but not all of the 
men, had great coats, and all had cartridge shoulder 
belts and water-bottles. Such packs as they pos- 
sessed they carried on their backs. The Albanian 
regiments always wore a small white skull cap 
instead of the fez, which they dislike. The uniforms 
were nearly all new, served out at Constantinople 
or Rodosto ; the only men who had old clothes 
were among the regular active army, the Nizam, 
which constituted not a third of the entire force. 
Arms and accoutrements were kept sufficiently 
clean, but the kit was put on in the casual way 



22 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY CHAP. 

that an Asiatic generally affects when dressed a la 
franca. The greater proportion of the infantry were 
Redifs or reservists, drawn from among the peasant 
population of Anatolia and European Turkey, the 
men averaging from thirty to thirty-five years old. 
Recruits and volunteers did not begin to come in 
until almost the end of the war. The battalions 
were nearly all drawn from particular towns and 
districts, a territorial system which struck me as 
excellent in every way. There were ten or twelve 
Albanian battalions, but the mass of the foot- 
soldiers were Turks. 

The cavalry, on the other hand, included a 
very large proportion of Circassians and Bul- 
garian Pomaks — hardly any Kurds, and no Hami- 
dieh regiments. They wore a black lambskin cap, 
a short blue jacket, trousers, and long boots, and 
besides a straight sword carried a slung rifle and 
cartridge belt. As a rule the men were much 
younger than in the infantry, averaging twenty to 
twenty-four, and were the most excellent material, 
good grooms and riders, and capable of becoming 
first-class troopers. The horses were mainly from 
Asia Minor, and averaged i4'3 to 15 hands ; they 
were well looked after and fed, and even were, if 
anything, a bit too fat, as forage was nearly always 
to hand — generally chaff, oats, and grass. Saddles, 
and bridles ci la turca. 

Artillery, which was very numerous, was ex- 
cellently horsed and gunned, but poorly trained. 



Ill THE ARMY IN THE FIELD 23 

Six cannon, eighty men and sixty horses was the 
complement of a battery. The guns were 7^ centi- 
metres (3 inch) Krupp-Manteli, all in first-class con- 
dition, cased and clean, the limbers and gun carriages 
of the ordinary pattern. The shell weighed twelve 
and the shrapnel fourteen pounds, fired by time or 
percussion fuses. The horses were for the most 
part from Russia or Hungary, and ran bigger than 
those of the cavalry. The men, recruited from all 
parts of the Empire, did the manual part of their 
work well ; but there was very little technical skill, 
and a battery had rarely more than one trained 
artillery officer. Three batteries of horse artillery 
armed with nine-pounders were attached to the 
cavalry division. These, however, were short ot 
spare horses, so the gunners sat on the limbers 
and carriages ; accordingly the speed was not very 
great. There were also three batteries of mountain 
guns on mules ; first-class weapons, but the gunners 
very slow. Eighteen howitzers came up to Serfije, 
but were never brought any further, as there was 
no need for them. Taking it all round, the artillery, 
unlike the cavalry, was a very strong arm, but like 
the cavalry it was never made sufficient use of — 
the best work being done by the corps artillery 
which acted under the orders of Riza Pasha, who 
frequently used to borrow divisional batteries when 
he had need of them. 

Among the technical arms the engineers were not 
prominent — such roads and bridges as were made 



24 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

being due either to the infantry or the civil popula- 
tion. The field telegraph was never a brilliant 
success, and the postal arrangements were lament- 
able. Of the two medical servicer the Red Crescent 
was excellent, but the army department on the march 
was frequently undermanned, arid in action was rarely 
near the front. Supply, however, whether of ammu- 
nition, food, or forage, was quickly and efficiently 
conducted. The general staff knew and did its 
work creditably, but divisional headquarters were 
not nearly so well served. Such details as sketching 
and heliographing were barely practised, while 
balloons, machine guns, and military railways never 
existed at all. 

Before closing this chapter, it may be well to give 
some details about the Greek army, gathered from 
the papers and from officers and correspondents 
who had seen it. 

There were two brigades at Arta, Trikkala, and 
Larissa respectively, and smaller bodies at Kalam- 
baka, Rapsani, and Volo — about 60,000 men in all 
— but reinforcements were continually being brought 
up, and towards the end of the campaign deserters 
were continually slipping away, so that accurate 
figures are hard to get at. At no time were the 
Greeks numerically as strong as the Turks. 

The infantry were drawn for the most part from 
the reserve, and - consisted of town and country 
people who knew little of soldiering and liked it 
less. The Euzonoi, light troops and mountaineers, 



Ill THE ARMY IN THE FIELD 25 

were better stufF, fairly good shots, and with some 

training ; they were, however, in a minority, and 

cannot have numbered over 10,000. The cavalry 

was very deficient in every way, and did very little 

throughout the campaign. The artillery was the 

best feature ; though limited in guns, men, and horses, 

it was well drilled, and frequently made very good 

shooting, and among the officers there was more 

science than in the Ottoman Army. The technical 

arms were poor, the reserves of ammunition 

ludicrously small, and the arrangements for supply, 

transport and telegraphing distinctly bad. The 

medical service was to a great extent extraneous, 

and accordingly well managed. The Foreign Legion 

and the volunteers in Epirus were few in numbers, 

and appeared to be little better organised than the 

other troops, while the forces of the Ethnike Etairia 

were rather irregulars and bandits than anything 

else ; they do not seem to have done much beyond 

causing the war and hampering the King's army 

when it had begun, being almost entirely lacking 

in discipline. All the men were armed with the 

Gras rifle, a somewhat obsolete weapon formerly 

used by the French army, '433 bore, bolt action, and 

very liable to jam. The cavalry had carbines, and 

the guns, of the Krupp pattern, were good. The 

men wore a uniform resembling that of the French, 

with kepis, loose trousers and blue tunics, except 

the Euzonoi, who were dressed in their native kilts 

and fezzes. 



26 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY CH. iii 

Colonel Smolensk! and Colonel Mavromichailis 
in Thessaly, and Colonel Manos in Epirus, appear 
to have been the most capable generals, but the staff 
was continually divided by the most extraordinary 
wranglings and mutual recriminations, and this no 
doubt contributed considerably to the demoralised 
state into which the army soon fell. At present, 
however, I do not contemplate giving further 
opinions on the Greek troops, and what I have 
stated above are little more than a few bare facts 
which appear necessary to the proper understanding 
of the campaign. 



CHAPTER IV 

EDHEM PASHA AND HIS STAFF 

Elassona is a beautiful little town, lying at the 
entrance of a narrow green valley into a fertile plain 
watered by a winding river. On a beetling crag, 
just over the mosques and minarets below, is per<:hed 
an ancient Orthodox mpnastery, said to be twelve 
hundred years old, and rich in the queerest old 
frescoes and eikons. Five solitary monks inhabit 
it, and from the windows of one of their cells I first 
looked out over the landscape where the Turkish 
troops were encamped, and beyond to the east, 
south, and west where high ranges of hills marked 
the frontier of Greece. To our left, but rather to 
the rear, rose the snow-covered tops of Olympus, 
and far to the right the peaks of Pindus seemed to 
join the clouds. Not five miles off to the east stood 
the col of Milona, the pass destined to see the first 
and fiercest fighting in the war ; further down, 
towards the south, lay the defile of Skumpa, and 
beyond it again, but out of sight, the pass of Damasi 
marked the extreme southern point of Macedonia. 



28 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY CHAP. 

I had come up here with one of the Sultan's aide- 
de-camps, four of whom were attached to the person 
of the marshal, with power to report direct to Yildiz 
— a somewhat extraordinary arrangement according 
to our military ideas. This one, Nedjib Bey, was 
one of the cleverest and most intelligent men in the 
army, and if his fortune equals his abilities his career 
will be remarkable. In the afternoon he presented 
me to Edhem Pasha, who throughout the campaign 
treated me with the greatest kindness, and whom I 
shall always remember as the finest specimen of a 
Turkish gentleman I have ever met. He is now 
about fifty years old, a man of middle height, with 
a beard and moustache beginning to turn gray. 
His eyes and mouth are kind though firm, and he 
has a great sense of humour. Still, he is quite the 
grand seigneur, and his modesty is only excelled by 
his dignity. Starting life as an infantry officer, he 
so distinguished himself in the war of 1878 that he 
was promoted from the rank of colonel, which he 
then held, to the command of a brigade, and his 
defence of the Grevitza Redoubt at once gave him 
a name for courage. When the war was over he 
was appointed Vali of Uskup, in northern Mace- 
donia, and during the years that he held that office 
his justice and clemency were no less celebrated than 
his bravery had previously been. He was after- 
wards Vali of Beyrout, and subsequently military 
commandant of the Zeitun district just after the 
massacres of 1894 and 1895. Latterly he has been 



IV EDHEM PASHA AND HIS STAFF 2^ 

military governor of Crete, and in March of this year 
he was appointed to the command of the Ottoman 
forces in Macedonia. He is a field-marshal, and 
has now received the title of Ghazi, and the first 
class of the Order of the Imtiaz in brilliants, the 
highest decoration that the Sultan can bestow. 
Though most of his service has been with infantry, 
artillery is the arm of his predilection, and at first it 
was on his guns that he mostly counted for success.. 
By nature he is extremely careful and methodical, 
having been brought up in the most conservative 
Turkish style, — he only knows a few words of French,. 
— and accordingly his strategy was before every- 
thing sure, while his tactics were frequently slow. 
Of his ability there is no doubt, for during the whole 
of the campaign in Thessaly he not only invariably 
succeeded in defeating the enemy without sufferings 
any material loss, but he managed at the same time 
to maintain his influence and authority in the army,, 
and his prestige and popularity at the Palace, where 
many foes were continually at work against him, 
endeavouring to undermine both his power and his 
reputation. 

It must always be remembered that hardly for 
an hour did the Commander-in-Chief have an abso- 
lutely free hand, and at one time nearly every 
movement of troops had to be explained to and 
authorised from the Palace before it was allowed to 
take place. In fact, Edhem had to avoid gaining 
a very great victory, and the consequent renown 



30 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY CHAP. 

he would get throughout the Empire, as much as 
lie had to avoid the least reverse to his arms or 
the least loss of men or maUriel, which would have 
entailed instant disgrace. For him there were 
neither Malplaquets nor Sedans, his duty being to 
obtain the maximum of useful advantage with the 
minimum of personal fame. 

But if Edhem was the Kurupatkin, Sefulat Pasha 
was the Skobelef of the war. Sefulat has been 
called by many the Moltke, but this to my mind is 
giving him too much credit. He has an immense 
amount of initiative and the glorious faculty of seizing 
the occasion, but most of the decisions were actually 
made by Edhem, and Sefulat had rather to snatch 
his coups de main out of his general's leisurely policy 
than Edhem had to supplement the achievements 
of his chief of the staff by the connecting links ot . 
careful strategy. Sefulat no doubt had better train- 
ing and knew more of the theory and the theatre 
of war, but Edhem had practical experience, the 
responsibility of command, and the strength to make 
his will felt. 

Sefulat Bey, for so he was called when the war 
began, was a colonel on the staff, a hard, dark, wiry 
man of three or four and forty. Born in Cir- 
cassia, and brought up in Petersburg and Moscow, 
he speaks Russian, French, and German with equal 
facility. Five years ago he had been military 
attach^ to the Ottoman Legation in Athens, and 
had subsequently acted as Consul at Larissa and 



IV EDHEM PASHA AND HIS STAFF 31 

Volo. Here he had acquired a knowledge of the 
country and the language that were invaluable to 
Edhem Pasha, who after the battle of Pharsala 
raised him to the position of chief of the staff. He 
Tiad already been made civil governor of Larissa, a 
general, and a pasha, after the taking of that town. 
He is a man of untiring energy, and possesses the 
quick and firm decision that is the first quality of 
a successful general. No doubt in the future, if he 
prospers at the Palace, his military career will justify 
its promise. Individually he is one of the kindest 
and pleasantest men I know. 

To continue with the headquarter staff, Enver 
Bey, subsequently promoted to pasha and appointed 
governor of Volo, and Sabit Bey, another colonel on 
the staff, were both skilled and well-read men, 
speaking French and German, and endeavouring 
to supply the conduct of the campaign with the 
science of which it so sorely stood in need. 

Riza Pasha, the commandant of the artillery, a man 
of not more than thirty-five, and educated for some 
time in Berlin, was, with his own arm, a capable and 
painstaking general. He was quick, he knew all his 
battery commanders, and he was a clever and 
experienced gunner. Suleyman Pasha, the cavalry 
general, did not appear to me to be in any way so 
well fitted for the post he held, though to what 
extent he was hampered by orders from making 
use of his division it is impossible to say. * As it 
was, the cavalry only distinguished itself once, and 



32 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

then by a charge the folly of which was not ex- 
cused by its bravery. This, however, was not as 
it happened Suleyman's fault. Of the divisional 
generals Hamdi Pasha was probably the most 
reliable and efficient. Neither Memdoukh, Haidar, 
nor Hakki impressed me much. Nechat and Hairi 
I did not know, but these two did fight battles on 
their own account, and won them, though at 
Domoko their tactics were almost culpable. Of 
Mahmud Bey I will speak later on, and also of 
Grumbkov Pasha, and this, with the exception of 
Nedjib and Mustafa Natik Beys, disposes of the 
most eminent persons in the army. The two latter 
were aide-de-camps of the Sultan ; both of them 
were extremely clever, astute and well educated 
men, but their missions were more political than 
military. 

Beyond those I have enumerated I do not believe 
there were twenty officers in the army who had a 
reasonable conversational knowledge of French, or 
more than the most elementary military training. 
This to a great extent was the reason of the minute 
supervision exercised by Edhem Pasha over his 
divisional generals whenever it was possible, and 
it explains the frequent tactical errors committed 
by commanders when acting independently. 

The great mass of the regimental officers were 
either poor Turkish gentlemen, pleasant and brave 
enough, though not particularly skilful in their pro- 
fession, or hard old rankers, men who had served 



IV ED HEM PASHA AND HIS STAFF 33 

thirty or forty years in the army, and had slowly 
risen to the rank of captain or major. These latter 
were very like sergeants in their ideas and methods, 
but they had a great hold over the men, and their 
courage and endurance were inconceivable. As a 
matter of fact the word courage is not strictly 
applicable tc^he Turk ; he is, as far as I can make 
out, mentally impervious to any sensation of fear, 
and what passes with us for the most wonderful < 
daring is rather a positive lack of any appreciation 
of danger. The Albanian, on the other hand, has 
a very shrewd idea of the damage caused by a bullet, 
and of the practical advantage of cover. This is, 
however, again somewhat premature. 



D 



CHAPTER V 

THE INCURSIONS AT GREVENA AND KARYA 

On April 5th the ist Division moved its head* 
quarters to Mologusta, six miles south of Domenik, 
and the 2nd Division received three battalions 
and a battery, which it needed to complete its 
strength. The day after an immense consignment 
of new boots arrived for the artillery, the fresh 
mountain batteries from Serfije were parked outside 
Elassona, and the ist and 2nd Divisions each 
pushed forward half a brigade along the slopes of 
the southern and south-eastern frontiers. 

At the Milona pass, which we used to ride up 
to nearly every afternoon, things seemed very quiet. 
The Turkish lieutenant in command of the post, 
Yunnuz Effendi, used to take us over to tea with 
the Greek officers in the opposite blockhouse, 
where he used to dwell upon the delights of war 
with realistic details, to the evident disgust of our 
hosts. He had passed twenty years in the army, 
and possibly the slowness of promotion had em- 
bittered his spirit, for though an excellent good 



CH.v THE INCURSIONS AT GREVENA AND KARYA 35 

fellow in many ways, he was bloodthirsty enough 
for a Kurd, and killed, I believe, over twenty of 
his quondam neighbours in the Milona battle. 
When on the frontier we sometimes used to go a 
little distance into Greece ; one could see Larissa 
quite distinctly, though not Tyrnavos, which lay 
round a hill. Often we watched the troops exer- 
cising in the plain below, or, what was much more 
interesting, the Euzonoi and Albanians dancing 
opposition dances round their blockhouses, hand in 
hand, to the accompaniment of a reed pipe. 

In the morning one visited the various divisions 
and some of the outposts, and in the evening I 
used to dine with Sefulat and Nedjib, or with the 
Kaimakam, who had most kindly given me a house. 

On April loth Mr. Hamilton Weldon came out 
as special correspondent for the Morning Posty and 
for the remainder of the time I lived with him ; 
Colonel von Sonnenburg, an officer of the German 
general staff, joining us on May 6th. 

At Elassona we were given a house, at Larissa 
we hired one, at Pharsala we appropriated one, and 
at Volo we found a hotel. Our food was generally 
mutton, with rice and bitter country wine ; bread at 
times was scarce, especially at Pharsala, but latterly 
fruit was obtainable, though it is never particularly 
safe in the East. The sleeping accommodation 
was for the most part clean, but on one or two 
occasions it was more filthy than anything I have 
ever come across in the heart of Armenia or 

D 2 



36 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

Kurdistan. Unfortunately our tinned provisions very- 
soon ran out, and as getting things from Salonika 
was a very long job, and buying in Larissa was 
almost an impossibility, we had to go without. But 
until we got to Pharsala there was hardly any 
illness, and then what there was, due to bad water, 
was, I fancy, limited to the Europeans. Luckily 
neither Weldon nor I suffered. To revert, how- 
ever, to the events of the war. On April 9th 
we were startled by the news of what has generally 
been called the Raid of Grevena. 

Grevena lies about sixty miles to the west of 
Elassona and some distance north of the frontier, 
and the raiders in point of fact never got there. 
The details were as follows. On the night of the 
8th a party of about 1 500 men, composed of Cor- 
fiotes and Alexandrians with a good many Greek 
deserters, left Kalambaka under the auspices of 
the Ethnike Etairia, and crossed the frontier at 
Baltino. The lieutenant commanding the Turkish 
blockhouse, who had a force of only thirty men 
under him, ordered them to halt, and appealed to 
the Greek frontier officer, who said it was no 
business of his as they were not King's troops. 
The greater portion of the band had by then 
passed the actual line, and some of them soon 
came into contact with a picquet of the 5 th 
Nishangi and a fight began. Who fired the first 
shot no one will probably ever know, but a combat 
went on all night" in the woods on the mountain 



V THE INCURSIONS AT GREVENA AND KARYA 37 

sides, and the Turks were gradually driven back. 
The Greeks burnt the two blockhouses behind them 
and drove out the garrisons. 

They had advanced three or four miles by dawn 
when they were met by three companies of the 6th 
Nishangi from the 5th Division at Diskata, and at 
the same time some of the Turkish troops from 
the line of unfired blockhouses attacked them in 
rear. 

They then appear to have lost their discipline, for 
the greater part of them were very soon surrounded 
and fifty or sixty were killed. The remainder cut 
their way back, but reformed at the frontier where 
they halted. The Turks did not pursue them in 
consequence of their orders and from lack of troops. 
Eight Turkish prisoners were taken to Kalambaka, 
and one Greek, or rather Corfiote, was brought to 
Elassona. 

On the loth nothing more was done, but on the 
nth the band again set fire to two blockhouses, 
and a skirmish took place along the crest line of 
the hills. Islam Pasha, who commanded the 
brigade, and Sefulat Bey, who had ridden from 
Elassona, had by this time got a sufficient force 
to the front, and moving forward they drove the 
brigands back some two miles, and the raid was 
for the time ended. After this we at Elassona 
thought that very possibly the whole thing would 
be explained by the Greek Government. 

On the 1 3th, however, and again on the 14th a fresh 



38 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

incursion of Greek regular troops was made near the 
Shuma Monastery Pass east of Damasi. I n the middle 
of the night the Turkish sentinel on the heights 
challenged some men he saw in the gorge below, and 
was answered in Greek. He called his officer who 
happened to know a little of that language, and the 
voice explained that a company of Euzonoi had lost 
their way. After some further parleying the men re- 
tired, and the affair when reported at Elassona was not 
looked upon as very grave. But exactly the same 
manoeuvre was repeated next night, and the Greek 
officer then said that the territory he was on was not 
Turkish. On the Turks threatening to fire he again 
retired with his men, but next morning when the 
Ottoman troops began to erect stone intrenchments 
along the head of the gorge, the Greek lieutenant, 
who commanded a stronger body in a better position, 
threatened on his side to fire unless the work was 
stopped, as it was, he said, contrary to the agreements 
laid down in the Treaty of Berlin. 

We heard all this on the 15th, and it then 
appeared obvious that not only the Ethnike Etairia 
but also the Hellenic Government were bent upon 
forcing on war, so that when on the morning of the 
1 7th came the news of a fresh incursion the night 
before at Karya we were not particularly surprised. 

Weldon and I at once got leave to go to Karya, 
taking with us an officer and a trooper whom Edhem 
Pasha had very kindly told off to accompany us. It 
was about twenty-four miles off, and we did it in two 



V THE INCURSIONS AT GREVENA AND KARYA 39 

hours and a half, as the sound of cannon told us it 
was something more than a raid. The road lay 
along the lower slopes of the chain of mountains that 
culminates in Olympus, and below that peak we 
found the little village of Karya occupied by Hamdi 
Pasha and the best part of his division. His bat- 
teries unfortunately were at Leptokarya, and he had 
only four guns, which he brought into action soon 
after midday. 

The story was much the same as that of Grevena, 
except that the Greeks were all regulars. They had 
passed the frontier in the evening, before the Turks 
could bring up a sufficient force to hold them in 
check. A desultory wood fire had continued all 
night, and in the morning it became evident to 
Hamdi Pasha, who had come from Leptokarya, that 
the number of troops opposed to him was large 
enough to justify his bringing up the major part of 
his division. The roads, however, were extremely 
bad, and he had eventually to get artillery from 
Elassona. 

In the meantime — it was now about two o'clock 
in the afternoon — the Greeks had got well inside 
the Turkish frontier, and a regular battle had begun. 
The scene was a long, green valley running east and 
west, about half a mile broad from slope to slope. 
On the north rose the bare, brown shoulders of 
Olympus capped by snow, and at its foot lay the 
little village of Karya, surrounded by tents and alive 
with men. 



40 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

On the opposite hillside, which was covered with 
pine and beech woods, a scattered fight was going 
on right up to the crest line, where the blockhouses 
marked the frontier. 

The infantry fire was fairly, but not very, heavy, 
and the short battery, not well supplied with 
ammunition and poorly posted on a little plateau, 
was not working with any great speed or doing 
much damage. 

I got Hamdi's leave to possess myself of the 
military wire and laboriously proceeded to telegraph 
in Turkish to Sefulat at Elassona, and to beg him to 
retranslate my message into French and start it off 
to London. This done, we delivered ourselves to a 
more detailed contemplation of the fight. We first 
of all visited the temporary hospital, a necessary, 
but most painful duty, and were as astonished by the 
fortitude of the men (they never had anaesthetics 
even under amputation) as we were pleased by the 
care and skill of the surgeons. We then climbed 
up to the battery and the infantry supports, the men 
of which were lying down and eating and smoking 
according to the custom of the Turkish soldier. 
Here we took a few photographs, and watched the 
shooting. By this time it was getting well on into 
the afternoon, and as there was no likelihood of 
the fight finishing that evening and every proba- 
bility of something happening in the neighbourhood 
of Elassona, we decided to go back there before it 
got dark. 



V THE INCURSIONS AT GREVENA AND KARYA 41 

Accordingly we said good-bye to the general and 
wished him luck, and started back on our ride. He 
had then nearly nine battalions engaged and three 
in reserve, and on the road we met four more and 
two sadly needed batteries. As we neared head- 
quarters, we found all the troops in camp along the 
hills behind Elassona parading for a night march, 
and when we got in at eight o'clock and went up to 
the Field-Marshal, who was just going to have 
dinner, he hailed us with the news that war had 
been declared at five o'clock that afternoon, and that 
"to-morrow, Inshallah, we shall be on the road to 
Yenisheyr (Larissa)." 



CHAPTER VI 



THE BATTLE OF MILONA 



That same evening of the 17th April the can- 
non on the heights below Menekt6p6 and Kritiri 
came into action, and their dull roar went on all 
night. Extremely little execution was done, how- 
ever, the gunners being apparently content to pull 
the lanyard and trust to Allah for the result. About 
midnight the Greek infantry, who had been able to 
mount the winding military road on their side ot 
the Milona Pass without much loss, crossed the 
crest line and began to descend towards the plain 
of Elassona. At the time I was occupied in 
printing French telegrams (printed characters and 
French being a sine qua non for the telegraph 
clerk), so that I can only speak of what I heard. 
But it is apparently certain that the Greeks de- 
scended two or three times almost to the level 
ground before they were finally driven up again by 
the Turkish infantry. 

In the small hours of Sunday the i8th the Greek 
Consul in Elassona packed up such effects as he 



CH. VI THE BATTLE OF MILONA 43 

could put on a horse, and, accompanied by a Turkish 
escort, set off on his adventurous journey to Larissa, 
where he arrived safely, I believe, later in the day. 
Directly dawn broke, Weldon and I rode off 
towards the Milona Pass, and about a mile from 
the foot of it found five batteries of the corps 
artillery in action under Riza Pasha. They were 
endeavouring to shell the enemy's troops just over 
the crest line at a range of 3,000 yards, though I 
think it was really considerably less. Shrapnel was 
not used at all, and at first the firing did not appear 
to be very well judged, though in the afternoon 
the results were much better. Edhem Pasha had 
not then come out, but Sefulat was there, and also 
Memdoukh, whose division was in front. 

We left the guns behind and rode on up the path 
with a Circassian trooper until we got into the 
entrance of the pass. Here the first bullets began 
to pass over our heads ; but from the sing we judged 
them to be spent, and as we had not yet come on 
any visible signs of conflict we went on. About 
three hundred yards higher up, as we were getting 
into the more rocky part, we came upon a poor chap 
with his face cut to pieces by a bit of shell and quite 
blinded by blood. He was being helped along by a 
friend, who informed us that there was " chok shey " 
(a lot of work) up on top, and advised us to avoid the 
Albanian battalions, who **did not know giaours." 
We now began to come to an occasional corpse, and 
the bullets got a good deal more frequent. We 



44 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY CHAP. 

pushed on, and round the next turn of the pass 
found two companies in support waiting to mount 
the slope. They had their ammunition mules with 
them, and were occupied in the most methodical 
way eating lumps of bread and smoking, though the 
fusillade from Menekt6p6 was stronger than ever. 
I asked the captain why he kept his men in such an 
exposed place, but he said, '* Binbashi bizi borda 
brakdi " (the colonel left us here), which was for him 
an excellent and all-sufficing reason. Weldon took 
a photograph or two and we went on, but thought 
it now better to dismount and leave our horses in a 
little guUey with our trooper and another orderly we 
had met. We were now not more than a hundred 
yards from the head of the pass, and about twenty 
yards beyond us stood the tree which marked the last 
turn. We got there, and then began to crawl on 
our hands and knees, until at last we found ourselves 
level with the firing line, who were lying down in 
extended order just below the hill top. The block- 
house was about fifteen yards in front and was in 
possession of the Turks, while the Greek block- 
house fifty yards further on was empty. Behind it, 
however, was a long low stone wall, from which 
came the enemy's fire ; and every now and again a 
shell from Riza Pasha in the plain plumped down 
beyond them, but we could not see with what result. 
The noise was tremendous all the time from the 
rattle of the musketry, the roar of the cannon, and 
the whistling of the bullets. 






,. ^WQ«, ^t^40X ANp 



VI THE BATTLE OF MILONA 45 

We were not particularly bienvenus with the 
firing line, who were Albanians, and after asking 
us who we were, and why the devil we had come, 
they advised us to retire, which we accordingly 
did, after Weldon had rendered them immortal 
with his camera. We found our horses and went 
back to the captain, who was persuaded to let us 
climb up the hill with his company, which was at 
last going into action. We rather stupidly took our 
horses along with us, and mine, having attained a 
commanding and extremely prominent position on 
the hill top, refused to be led down, and I was for 
ten minutes much divided between my duty to him 
and my newspaper. At last, however, I persuaded 
him to descend, and we then picketed them and 
went up again, whereupon two Albanians took up 
their position behind us with their fingers on the 
triggers of their rifles. Not desiring to serve as 
cover we again retired, and as the firing had slack- 
ened considerably, mounted and rode back to the 
corps artillery, where we. found Edhem Pasha and 
the headquarter staff sitting on the ground in the 
sun and watching what could be seen of the fight. 
Here we were informed that a battle had begun at 
Damasi, where Hairi had some difficulty in keeping 
the Greeks back, and that Nechat Pasha at Skumpa 
was attacking the Greek batteries posted on the 
heights to the west and north of Tyrnavos. About 
midday a fresh message came in from the Second 
Division to the effect that Hafiz Pasha, a fine old 



46 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

soldier who had served in the Crimea, had been 
killed while leading his brigade into action on horse- 
back. No further news arrived from Damasi that 
day, or at least we heard none, but a continual 
fusillade went on along the hill tops, while the 
artillery on the Turkish heights and that in the 
plain kept up its fire. This continued all the after- 
noon without any decisive result, until at last about 
4 P.M. the first battery of the corps artillery blew 
up one of the Greek blockhouses with a shell. It 
was a beautiful shot, and Riza Pasha himself laid 
the successful gun. 

The Turks then drove the enemy a little down 
the hill, and Haidar Pasha, who had hitherto only 
had half his division in action, now sent up his 
remaining brigade. At seven the fire slackened 
sensibly, and by eight there was nothing but a 
desultory fusillade with occasional cannon shots, so 
we rode back to Elassona to eat and sleep a little. 
The battle was not, however, over until midnight, 
and slight firing continued from Karya far away 
on the left, where Hamdi was still fighting, to 
Damasi at the southern point of the frontier, 
where Hairi was opposed to the mass of the 
Greek artillery from Zarkos. During the night 
two more battalions and two batteries were 
sent to Karya, and the Independent Brigade was 
brought to the foot of the Milona Pass, so that 
nearly all the troops were pushed forward to the 
front line. At four o'clock in the morning, as we 



VI THE BATTLE OF MILONA 47 

were saddling our horses to ride out again to the 
scene of action, an orderly rode in and presented us 
with the following note, which I reproduce in full, as 
of some interest : — 

** Mon cher ami, 

** Son Excellence le Mardchal m'ordonne de 
vous informer que toutes les hauteurs a partir de 
Menekt^pe juscequ a Skumpa, exceptd Kritiri, vien- 
nent de tomber au pouvoir des troupes imp6riales. 

" Tout a vous, 

'*N6djib, 

''Aide de Camp de S.Mr' 

This was the official announcement of the conclusion 
of the battle; and cantering out we found Menek;t6p6 
deserted and the Milona col occupied by the Sultan's 
troops, who were engaged in burying the dead and 
repairing the fortifications by the blockhouses. The 
sight was a sad one, and a great change from the 
excitement of the day before. 

The infantry had rested and eaten during the 
night, having been fighting for thirty hours, and the 
Greeks were now found to have evacuated Ligaria 
or Karader6, the village at the eastern base of the 
pass. The heights of Kritiri, however, still re- 
mained in their hands, and the news from Karya 
showed that Hamdi had not so far done anything 
more than drive the enemy back to the frontier, 
although he had been fighting continuously since 
the night of the i6th. 

In front of Skumpa the Greek batteries had been 



48 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

dislodged from four of their positions, but no consider- 
able advance had been made, and at Damasi what re- 
sult had been obtained was not more favourable to the 
Turks. That day (19th) the corps artillery moved 
right up to the foot of the pass, and passed the 
Independent Brigade, which remained in camp be- 
hind it. The Cavalry Division was advanced from 
Ormanli to the plain of Elassona, and the field 
telegraph was continued along the Milona road, 
and brought up to the head of the pass. Two 
extra batteries were sent to Nechat Pasha, who 
was ordered to co-operate in the bombardment 
of Mount Kritiri which dominated Tyrnavos, and 
the remainder of the corps artillery, with the moun- 
tain guns, were directed on the reduction of that 
position. Nothing very much, however, was done 
on the Monday, as everyone was tired out, and the 
expenditure of ammunition had been so great that 
fresh supplies had to be brought up. Nearly all 
the troops had been in the firing line, and had com- 
pletely used up their battalion reserves, while the 
divisional ammunition had been left at Elassona. 
It was not, as it happened, a matter of very great 
importance, as the Greeks were evidently far worse 
off ; indeed, in some respects it prevented any further 
waste, as fire discipline and any check on the cartridges 
used hardly existed. There was no lack of morale, 
but on the other hand there was very little attention 
to putting up sights or aiming, and collective was 
entirely subordinated to independent firing. In the 
attack up the hills the extended formation was 



VI THE BATTLE OF MILONA 49 

adopted rather by instinct than command, for when 
a company advancing in line found itself inconveni- 
ently hustled by the enemy's bullets it merely spread 
out a bit more. But the absolute imperturbability 
of the men, their unhesitating and unwavering 
advance in the teeth of the most murderous fire, and 
the casual way in which individuals halted for the 
most ordinary purposes under a hail of shrapnel, 
convinced us that the result of the war was a fore- 
gone conclusion. It is -hard for a European to 
imagine even the most highly trained troops dis- 
playing such insouciance ; and the only explanation 
to fall back on is the original hypothesis that fear 
is an influence to which the Turkish brain is not 
susceptible. 

The battle of Milona was then completely ter- 
minated by the small hours of the 19th, the crest 
line remaining in the hands of the Turks ; this and 
the battles of Velestino and Domoko were the only 
actions of a sustained character and on a large scale 
during the entire campaign, as in the other fights 
much smaller bodies of troops were engaged. 
Edhem Pasha very wisely waited to recruit the 
strength of his men, and did not hurry them on 
at first ; but this was probably the only occasion on 
which his careful strategy was altogether beyond 
blame. Menekt6p6 had already been deserted, 
but Kritiri still held out, and its reduction and the 
subsequent events up to the taking of Larissa I 
purpose to deal with in the next chapter. 

E 



CHAPTER VII 



THE ADVANCE ON LARISSA 



The weather now began to get hot, and no rain 
fell, while for the next four days we enjoyed an 
experience almost unique in these days of large 
operations and long range weapons. We sat on the 
grass at the summit of a commanding height and 
watched, spread out below us on the plain of Larissa, 
the progress of Edhem Pasha's tactics. It was a 
kriegspiel on a grand scale, enlivened by the know- 
ledge that it was all real, and that the map and the 
pieces were factors in the destinies of Europe. No 
movement had taken place on the side of Trikkala, 
so it soon became evident that both generals were 
concentrating their attention and their troops on 
Larissa ; and the evolution of Edhem's careful 
advance was not rendered less interesting by its 
slow rate. The first thing to be done was to 
reduce Kritiri, where the Euzonoi had strengthened 
by every artificial means within their power a 
naturally strong position. Along the heights of 
a scarped cliff their intrenchments bristled ; below 



CHAP. VII THE ADVANCE ON LARISSA 51 

lay a rocky gorge, and beyond it, on our side, rose 
a long reverse slope, which served the enemy as an 
admirable glacis. 

Again and again did the Turkish guns bombard 
the heights, and again and again did the Albanians 
rush down the slope and endeavour to scale the cliff ; 
but the fire poured on them from above was mur- 
derous, and the batteries behind them had little effect 
on parapets of rock and stone. 

When at last, on the night of the 23rd, the 
•enemy's troops abandoned a position which had only 
been rendered untenable by the loss of its food 
supply, we found how few Greeks had been killed, 
and how formidable were the lines behind which 
they had been intrenched. 

Kritiri, however, did not command the road from 
the Milona Pass to Karad6r6 nor the road beyond. 
It was a strong position, which precluded any direct 
attack on Tyrnavos, and which checked any advance 
through the defile of Skumpa, but beyond that it 
was not of any great offensive value, and probably 
many generals would have masked it in front and 
rear, and left it behind. 

After several abortive assaults Nechat Pasha 

» 

decided to bring such a fire to bear upon it as would 
at any rate exhaust the enemy s ammunition supply 
for some time, if they replied, and with this object 
a cannonade and fusillade were concentrated on it 
during the afternoon of the 20th and morning of the 
2 1 St, which surpassed in^^v^lume and vehemence 

E 2 



52 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

anything I have ever heard — even the finale of 
a public schools field day at Aldershot. In conse- 
quence, during the whole of the 22nd, the Greeks 
remained quiet, and the advance of the Turks in 
the plain on the 23 rd no doubt made it clear to 
them that any further delay would end in their 
envelopment. Accordingly that night they retired 
from their heights, and passing* through Tyrnavos, 
fell back on Larissa, relinquishing a position which, 
if carried by assault, would have cost the Turks 
several thousand men. 

The history of Kritiri then need be no further 
considered, as it had no material effect on the 
Turkish advance beyond the delay it involved. We 
will return to the main body. 

On the morning of the 20th, after the troops had 
had one day's rest, the Cavalry Division, with its 
horse artillery, crossed the pass and descended into 
the valley beyond Karad6re. They advanced about 
a mile and a half and then the artillery unlimbered 
and began to fire at a small mamelon, behind which 
the Greeks were supposed to be in some force. 
This portion of the plain resembles a V ^^ shape, 
of which the arms are about three miles long, the 
fork being the place where the pass debouches. 
Beyond the V ^^ valley broadens out into the flat 
basin of the river Peneus, Larissa being directly in 
front and Tyrnavos round the right-hand bluff". The 
country is cornfield and grass, intersected by two 
tributaries of the Peneus, the left bank of which is 



VII THE ADVANCE ON LARISSA 53 

bordered by five or six woods, where the Greek 
infantry had taken up a fresh position in support of 
their artillery, which lay near the mamelon. Beyond 
a few shots very little was done on that day, but in 
the evening and during the night the Third 
Division and the Independent Brigade descended 
into the plain, and a fresh brigade from Diskata, 
under Hakki Pasha, arrived at the Turkish foot 
of the pass. 

On the 2 1 St, the morning was occupied with the 
bombardment of Kritiri, but about midday the 
Greek guns in the plain opened fire on our horse 
batteries, and this has been called the battle of 
Mati. At the same time we could hear heavy firing 
on the far left, which augured the advance of Hamdi. 

A methodical cannonade continued in the plain 
until four o'clock in the afternoon, when everything 
ceased, as if an understanding had been come to 
that both sides should have their evenings free. 
On the Turkish side (in the plain) there had been 
no casualties at all, and on the Greek one man had 
been killed. This is, of course, nothing to do with 
the bombardment of Kritiri, which was well away 
to the right. 

No further movement was made on that day, and 
early in the morning of the 22nd, the Third Division 
deployed and advanced on D61iler, a small village, 
which it found empty, and then occupied, as it had 
done to Karad6r6. Under its cover the Independent 
Brigade moved away to the left in column, in order 



54 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

to effect a junction with Hamdi Pasha. At the same 
time Hakki Pasha's brigade from Diskata, which 
had now been augmented by three fresh battalions 
from Salonika, and will be henceforward styled the 
Fifth Division, advanced in support of Memdoukh. 

The cavalry, acting as a screen and accompanied 
by its guns, had succeeded in forcing the Greeks to 
retire from the mamelon to the woods, but without 
any serious engagement. That evening we had 
news from Hairi that his troops were now alligned 
along the southern frontier, and that the enemy was 
falling back on Larissa. 

In the meantime the Fourth Division had been 
working hard at a military road which they were 
constructing up to the head of the Milona Pass, 
and the corps artillery now began to come over, 
the guns being dragged up the last ascent by fatigue 
parties of fifty men each. 

On the 23rd Hairi was ordered to advance and 
to wheel to the left with one brigade, and Nechat 
received the same orders, though his brigade 
advanced direct. Mahomet (commanding the Inde- 
pendent Brigade) effected a junction with the ex- 
treme right of Hamdi's division, and the cavalry in 
front pushed foward another two miles to the 
environs of Tyrnavos. 

These movements were, however, effected very 
slowly, and as it was extremely misty all day from 
the heat it was impossible to follow them in detail. 
Weldon and I, however, rode down into the plain 



VII THE ADVANCE ON LARISSA 55 

as far as within two miles of the mamelon, but were 
not allowed to get close enough to see any fighting. 

All day a strict censorship was applied, and no 
telegrams were allowed to leave Elassona. 

That night the Greeks deserted Kritiri, and the 
heads of the columns of the First, Second, Third 
and Sixth Divisions came on to the arc of a circle 
drawn from Larissa. That night also, as we subse- 
quently heard, took place the panic flight of the 
Greeks from Tyrnavos to Larissa, so well described 
by Reuter's correspondent with their army. 

We were soon to see the signs of it. 

In the morning of the 24th the cavalry, advancing 
with much circumspection, found Tyrnavos abso- 
lutely empty, and accordingly occupied it with four 
squadrons, the remainder of the division bivouack- 
ing outside. It was still feared that a grand resist- 
ance might be made along the banks of the Peneus ; 
and Edhem Pasha, though he rode into the town, 
did not sleep there, but returned to Karad6r6, where 
the telegraph line had now arrived. The Greeks, 
by the way, had omitted to cut their line from 
Karad6r6 to Tyrnavos, and a clerk was accordingly 
sent on to the latter town to take charge of the oflfice. 

In the evening Grumbkov Pasha, a German officer 
employed in the service of the Sultan as Inspector- 
General of Artillery, who had come out to follow the 
operations, obtained leave to send forward a single 
squadron to reconnoitre. The squadron, commanded 
by Jaffer Bey, advanced to the suburbs of Larissa 



56 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

and took prisoners four Greeks, who gave themselves 
up. These men, belonging to the Crown Prince's 
regiment of the Guard, told Grumbkov that Larissa 
was practically empty of troops, that the civil popu- 
lation was panic-stricken, and that he would have 
no difficulty whatever in occupying it. 

Under these circumstances, and without waiting 
for orders from the Field- Marshal, he borrowed six 
squadrons and a battery from the cavalry general, 
and advanced soon after dawn against the city. 

Near the banks of the Peneus, which was almost 
dry, some firing was heard, discovered subsequently 
to have come from the convicts who had been 
released from the municipal prison and furnished 
with rifles ; accordingly one gun was unlimbered 
and three blank shots were fired over the town 
which immediately became perfectly quiet. 

Grumbkov and Sefulat, who was, as he always 
was, well to the front, thereupon entered by the 
west gate, and were immediately welcomed by the 
Mussulman population, numbering some four hundred 
souls, and by the Jews, who had trusted to their 
religion for their safety. The citadel, the govern- 
ment house, and the bank were at once occupied, 
but the railway station was found denuded of all 
its rolling stock, and no use could therefore be made 
of the line ; Edhem was notified of the course 
of events, but pending his orders no measures 
were taken for the pursuit of the enemy, and 
vedettes were merely thrown out a mile to the 



VII THE ADVANCE ON LARISSA 57 

east and south of the town, Mustafa Natik Bey 
becoming military commandant. This was on the 
Sunday morning (25th). 

On the news arriving at headquarters, the follow- 
ing orders were issued : — 

1st Division to advance on Zarkos. 
2nd „ to support it on the left. 
3rd ,, to encamp at Larissa. 
4th ,, to halt at the Milona Pass. 
5th and 6th Divisions to skirt Larissa to the left, and 
bivouac five miles beyond to the south and east. 
Cavalry Division to be one mile in advance of last 
two divisions. 
These movements to be completed by the night 
of the 26th. 

Weldon and I rode into Larissa on the Sunday, 
and found it in a condition that quite bore out the 
accounts of the Greek flight. The shops were 
broken into, the private houses were looted and in 
the greatest disorder, the barracks were half burnt, 
and even the big guns in the citadel, with their 
ammunition, had been left to the victors. More ; 
the wounded soldiers and the sick in the hospitals 
had been deserted by the military doctors ; and as 
the Turkish medical officers did not arrive until next 
day several of the patients died in the interim, 
unknown of and untended. Altogether it was a de- 
plorable example of panic and debacle, and did much 
to convince the sober troops that saw its results of the 



58 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

un worthiness of the foes against whom they were 
pitted. 

During the night an Albanian battalion that had 
been rather foolishly allowed to enter the town gave 
some trouble, and the whole of the general staff that 
had arrived spent their time patrolling the streets 
and forcibly preventing plundering. In the morning 
two men were condemned to be shot ; and from 
then until the time I left there was no pillage 
worthy of the name, the isolated acts that did take 
place being committed by a few irresponsible 
marauders, who limited themselves to sheep stealing 
and once or twice setting fire to cottages. 

This completes the sequence of events from the 
Battle of Milona to the taking of Larissa. The only 
advances which have not been followed in detail are 
those on the extreme right and left. Of these Hairi 
Pasha, who had at first been driven back a little, 
but had readvanced on the 20th, had maintained a 
slight and desultory fight during the 21st and 22nd ; 
the Greeks then began to move off to their right, 
and not to the rear, for when he took Zarkos he 
found it deserted. Hamdi Pasha, with the Sixth 
Division on the left wing, had had a much more 
arduous task, — indeed his troops were practically 
fighting all the week, and at first it appeared that 
the Greek attack from Rapsani and the Vale of 
Tempe might seriously endanger the success of 
Edhem's advance. As soon, however, as it became 
clear that this advance was progressing, the Greeks 



VII THE ADVANCE ON LARISSA 59 

understood that any delay in the retreat of their 
right wing would result in its being cut off, and 
accordingly it fell back on Larissa during the 22nd 
and 23rd. The fiercest fighting at Karya and 
Nezeros had been on the first two days of the war ; 
latterly, as Hamdi brought up the entire strength 
of his division, and pushed forward the fresh 
batteries that he had received from Elassona, his 
preponderance in men and guns changed what 
was originally a stubbornly-contested battle into a 
slow but steady retirement. 

Up to the 25th the Turkish losses were estimated 
at about 400, and the Greek casualties at not much 
more, these including the deaths in the flight from 
Tyrnavos. In the Ottoman army the expenditure 
of ammunition had been enormous, and the super- 
human efforts that were made to bring up cartridges 
at the expense even of food, showed that this was 
thoroughly appreciated. It was estimated that in 
the first week nearly three million cartridges were 
fired. These figures, however, were never officially 
furnished, and it is impossible to gauge their 
accuracy at all justly. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE OCCUPATION OF NORTHERN THESSALY 

We now enter upon the first of those inexplicable 
waits, which, however much they may have com- 
mended to Europe the Turks' humanity, did not 
increase their reputation for strategy. 

For four days nothing was done beyond the occu- 
pation of Zarkos, which town Hairi found deserted. 
Then came the first Battle of Velestino, neither in- 
tended nor directed by Edhem, resulting in a re- 
verse. This was followed by another pause of four 
clear days, after which the rapid successive falls of 
Pharsala and Volo inaugurated the final and longest 
interval of inactivity, lasting over a week. This 
was at last terminated by the Battle of Domoko. 

It is impossible to say to what extent diplomacy 
and orders from Constantinople influenced this policy, 
but regarded from a purely military point of view it 
was almost inexcusable, and even the lack of cavalry 
could not justify the absolutely passive rSle which the 
stronger and victorious army saw fit to . play. Pur- 
suit was ignored, and the ** strategic advance of the 




StmnA,a^ Ott^fAimif^MAi 



It h e n ti ^'^ '-"^ '"^ ^ 
PUBLIC LirfSARV 



A8T0R, LENOX AND 
yiLDEN FOUNDATIONS, 



CH.VIII THE OCCUPATION OF NORTHERN THESSALY 6i 

columns," to use the official phrase, meant little 
more than the necessary pushing forward of the 
first line to make room for the reinforcements that 
were daily pouring in. 

Larissa, or Yeni Sheyr (New City), as the Turks 
call it, is a pretty town lying in the centre of the 
historic plain that is bounded by Olympus, Ossa 
and Pelion. To its north the river Peneus rushes 
through the Vale of Tempe to the sea, and on its 
south the crags of Cynoscephalae conceal the plain 
of Pharsala and the river Enipeus. 

The traces of its classic part have, however, 
almost entirely disappeared, and the frequent and 
dominating minaret well typifies the hold that Islamism 
still maintains in Thessaly. The green mosque by the 
western gate excels in architectural beauty anything 
else in the town, which depends for its picturesque 
element on the Mohammedan population. The 
Greek peasant in the fields does indeed wear the 
dress of his race, a costume as becoming as it is 
workmanlike. But the modern Hellene citizen is as 
disappointing in his appearance as in his ideas, and 
does not compare well with the honest and dignified 
Turkish merchant. We found many Greek deserters 
both in Larissa and Volo who were quite prepared 
to discuss the errors and incapacity of their 
generals, but equally unwilling to fight in their army 
or to subscribe to its funds. My impressions were 
hurried, and may have been prejudiced ; but I did 
not care for the Greeks I met, and I believe that 



62 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

most Englishmen would have formed the same 
opinion. 

Weldon and I, in company with Sir Ellis Bartlett 
and Colonel von Sonnenberg, were put in charge of 
the bank, where we had a guard, which we unsuc- 
cessfully endeavoured to initiate into the technique 
of sentry-go. But for all its lack of smartness it was 
extremely alive to the practical part of its duty ; and 
the guttural "Yazak" (Forbidden) never failed to 
check the unwary intruder, even though the sentinel 
was apparently asleep. 

The town in a day or two began to resume its 
normal appearance, though the shops remained shut 
for some time, and for the first week there was 
hardly any business done. The military command- 
ant was soon superseded by Sefulat, now a Pasha, 

« 

who united in His person all the functions of a 
general and a governor. An official rate of exchange 
was declared, security of property and person was 
guaranteed, and pillage was severely put down. 
Very little indeed took place ; and the single house 
that was set on fire was saved by the efforts of a 
cavalry picquet, who were quickly on the spot. 

The order of the day, however, was " Kef," the 
passive but quite temperate form of repose into 
which the Turk seems naturally to sink after any 
unusual spurt of activity. Every sort of report 
favourable to the success of the Imperial arms was 
afloat, and nearly all were countenanced by the 
authorities ; one adventurous squadron from Suley- 



VIII THE OCCUPATION OF NORTHERN THESSALY 63 

man Pasha's division did actually ride beyond 
Velestino, and this was immediately magnified into 
the capture of Volo, and passed as such by the 
censorship. The weather became extremely hot, 
and the energy of the headquarters staff seemed 
to be affected by it. In fact, as the Eton Latin 
Grammar used to pithily express it, Hannibal cum 
victoria posset uti^ frui maluit, 

Hairi Pasha on the right leisurely advanced on 
Trikkala, whence the Greeks had fled, and he took 
it on the 30th. Nechat and Memdoukh gradually 
shifted their camps until they found themselves half 
way to Pharsala ; and Hakki accompanied by Suley- 
man Pasha, who was said to be " sweeping the 
country with his cavalry," had got to Gherli, six 
miles north of Velestino, by the 29th. Hamdi lay 
in front of Larissa, and the non-combatant services 
filtered in day by day. 

The most surprising thing was the extraordinarily 
friendly attitude adopted by the country people of 
the villages round about. A good deal was no doubt 
due to fear ; but the peaceable attitude of the Turkish 
soldiery did much to creating a good impression 
among the civil population, and soon the Greek 
merchants and traders came stealthily back to the 
city. Even the most ordinary rights of war were 
not resorted to, and the sheep and oxen bought by 
the Turks, at any rate at that stage of the campaign, 
were paid for in hard cash. As Colonel von Son- 
nenberg used to reiterate to us, deploring the absence 



64 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

of a German army corps to show them the way 
to do it, Sic wissen nicht Krieg zu fuhren ; and 
assuredly, though no one knows better how to fight, 
the Turks do not yet appear to have assimilated the 
jiigher ethics of the art of war. 

In the meantime Katerina had been bombarded 
by the Greek fleet, and a certain amount of food 
supply, mainly cases of biscuits, had been destroyed. 
There had been an intermittent guerilla warfare up 
at Diskata, and the troops there had advanced to the 
support of Hairi at Trikkala. Grumbkov Pasha had 
returned to Constantinople, and Colonel Baron von 
Giesl and Captain Dupont the Austrian and French 
military attaches, were now at headquarters. Alto- 
gether it was a little dull ; but late on the night 
of the 28th a young officer arrived whose advent 
was the signal for the single romantic episode in 
the campaign. This was Mahmud Bey, son of 
Kazi Mukhtar Pasha, the Ottoman High Com- 
missioner in Egypt, and a Caterji Oglu, one of the 
oldest families in the Empire. Mahmud, who has 
been educated in Berlin, and has served in the Guard 
there, though only thirty years old, is a colonel and 
an aide-de-camp to the Sultan, and in a way he is 
already one of the most notable men in Turkey. 
Speaking French and German like a native, and 
thoroughly imbued with Western ideas, he is yet a 
most ardent patriot, and his desire to re-organise the 
administration of his country is no less marked by 
singleheartedness than by confidence in his ultimate 



VII THE OCCUPATION OF NORTHERN THESSALY 65 

success. To the obstinacy and pride of his race he 
has joined the energy and organising talent of the 
Germans ; and if he can manage to steer his earlier 
career through the devious mazes of an Oriental 
Court, his fame in the future should equal his deserts. 
To him belongs the unfortunate glory of the first 
battle of Velestino, where a mistaken daring and the 
halting support of his superiors made him responsible 
for the single Turkish reverse of the campaign. 
Yet his general ability is beyond doubt, and his social 
qualities only heighten its value. His name has been 
freely connected with the Young Turkish party ; and 
no higher recommendation could be possessed by 
that section of the would-be resuscitators of the 
Ottoman Empire than that they can lay claim to 
such a leader. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE FIRST BATTLE OF VELESTINO 

The evening he arrived Mahmud told Son- 
nenberg that he had been given leave to execute a 
reconnaissance in the direction of Velestino, where 
the Greeks were known to be in some force. He 
offered to take Sonnenberg ; but as the latter could 
not go I was given the chance instead, and accord- 
ingly about four o'clock next morning, 29th, we set 
out with an orderly sergeant, a couple ,of troopers, 
and my Albanian cavass, a man whom I had picked 
up at Elassona, and who used to ride in to the tele- 
graph stations with my messages. The weather was 
lovely, though as the day wore on it became very- 
hot, and the country, covered with corn and grass 
and backed by the noble range of mountains that 
rises between Larissa and the sea, looked beautiful. 
Our ride of some forty miles was uneventful, except 
that we once lost our way while trying to take a 
short cut, and rode into a Greek village which lay 
to the north of Lake Karla and which had not yet 
been occupied by any Turkish troops. We were,. 



1 



CH. IX THE FIRST BATTLE OF VELESTINO 67 

however, very well received, the people all coming 
out and asseverating that the Ottoman rule was all 
that they desired, though how true this statement 
was it was hard to say. We got something to eat, 
and crossing the marsh that fringes the western 
point of the lake sighted Gherli about eleven o'clock. 
This was a little village on the railway, lying about 
half way between the lake and the Cynoscephlae 
range. Here we found a mixed force, consisting of 
eight battalions, four batteries, and six squadrons, 
under the command of Hakki and Suleyman Pashas. 
Both the infantry and cavalry divisions had been 
materially weakened by troupes ddtapes and transport 
detachments, which they had left on their road, and 
the cavalry, never strong, had been largely drawn on 
for escorts and postal services. Mahmud had got 
some sort of unofficial leave to " borrow '* a sufficient 
force to execute his reconnaissance, but was not, I 
fancy, particularly welcome to the two generals, who 
were quite contented with their independent position, 
and not in the least anxious to bear any unnecessary 
responsibility. After a little delay Mahmud got 
two battalions, two squadrons, and a horse battery, 
with a promise of further support if he needed it ; 
and with these we set out about two o'clock towards 
Velestino. therli, as I said, Ts a station on 
the railway from Larissa to Volo, which runs in a 
south-easterly direction as far as Velestino. Here 
it is joined by the line from Trikkala and Pharsala, 
and changes its course to due east. From Gherli 

F 2 



r»' 



68 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

to Velestino is nearly six miles, and from Velestino 
to Volo is about the same distance. 

The position at Velestino was of considerable im- 
portance. Firstly, it was based on Volo, whence 
supplies and troops could be readily brought up by 
rail. Secondly, it commanded the junction, and 
behind it lay all the rolling stock of the line, which 
the Greeks had taken away from Larissa, while 
through it lay the only good road over the mountains 
to the sea. Thirdly, as long as it remained untaken 
any direct advance to the south made by the Turks 
would be exposed to the serious danger of an attack 
in flank. 

The position was extraordinarily strong, as indeed 
were most of the positions selected by the Greeks 
throughout the campaign. A semicircle of hills, 
backed by the mountains of Pelion andCynoscephalae, 
stretched from right to left. In the centre of the 
arc a depression marked the col over which ran 
the road to Volo, twisting to the left or north in it:« 
ascent. At the foot of this col, but rather to its 
south, rose the white minarets of Velestino, the rest 
of the town being hidden from view by thick woods 
which extended from the slopes on our right away 
to the borders of the lake on the left. Beyond the 
lake rose the precipitous cliffs of Pilaf T6pe, on 
which the Greeks subsequently mounted six fortress 
guns. 

It was known that Velestino was held, but by 
what force was uncertain. A troop of Turkish horse 



IX THE FIRST BATTLE OF VELESTINO 69 

reconnoitring in its environs the day before had 
been driven back by infantry fire ; but we could not 
judge whether the Greeks intended making a stand, 
and at that time, just after the taking of Larissa, a 
very poor estimate was held of their morale. We 
advanced in column along the southern slopes until 
within two miles of Velestino, one squadron of the 
cavalry acting as a screen on the front and flanks, 
and the horse battery following immediately in rear 
of the second squadron. The chord of the arc of 
hills was here about five miles long. The troopers 
beat up the cornfields and the lower slopes of the 
hills to our right, but found nothing. They did not 
however go as far as the woods ; and on getting to a 
point where the main road from Gherli joins the 
track along which we had come, they halted, while 
the battery mounted a small hill in rear and 
unlimbered. 

It was then past four, and we could now see 
infantry moving along the crest line of the hill just 
over the town, but they did not appear to be 
numerous. One of our battalions deployed and 
advanced, the cavalry moving down into the level 
ground to the left, where they again halted. The 
Greek troops on the hill then began to fire ; our 
infantry advanced and replied, supported by the 
battery, the latter's range being about 2,000 yards. 
After a few shots shrapnel was employed ; and the 
Greeks, who had begun to descend the hill, halted 
under cover of the rocks and contented themselves 



70 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

with returning the infantry fusillade. In the mean- 
time the cavalry had pushed forward towards the 
wood, and, on getting within 500 yards, were re- 
ceived with a smart infantry fire which emptied one 
or two saddles and sent them back to their former 
position. A Greek battery then appeared on a height 
more to our left, but still quite close to the town, and 
began to answer our artillery fire. It was now nearly 
six, and more infantry could be observed crossing 
the crest line. Altogether we reckoned the enemy 
must have three or four battalions ready. Mahmud 
accordingly sent to Hakki for reinforcements, and 
about seven a battery belonging to our cavalry 
division appeared in the plain to our left and began 
a desultory fire. It soon commenced to get dark, 
however ; and as it was obvious that nothing could 
be done that night, " cease firing " was sounded, and 
we prepared to bivouac. 

My Albanian had got hold of a filthy little cottage, 
where Mahmud and I entertained von Giesl and 
Suleyman Pasha to a dinner of two thin chickens, 
some bread and some bitter wine. Up to nine 
o* clock we were enlivened by a dropping fire from 
the enemy ; and if one went outside to see after 
the horses, a spent bullet generally seemed to 
salute one. Very little damage had been done, 
however, and Mahmud had evolved a plan of 
turning the Greek left flank with his two battalions, 
which looked very hopeful. 

We slept for three hours in the greatest dis- 




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THE HI^V YORK 
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IX THE FIRST BATTLE OF VELESTINO 71 

comfort from every species of crawling thing, and 
an hour before dawn the troops got under arms, and 
the infantry set out on its flanking march along the 
summit of the hills to our right. It was a difficult 
and slow business, and we did not expect them to 
get near to the Greek left for two or three hours. 
As the sun rose, however, firing began on the right, 
and shortly afterwards two Greek batteries came 
into action in front. The Greeks had adopted the 
same idea and had intended to turn our flank, and 
we were now in the awkward position of having our 
right wing unsupported and possibly outnumbered, 
and of being for the moment without a centre, as 
the troops which were to have come from Gherli 
had not yet arrived. One battalion, however, came 
up within the next half hour, and being sent forward 
in column along a very exposed slope, suffered 
severely from the enemy's shrapnel. The point 
of attack of this advance was a diminutive hamlet 
called Kephalo ; but as the Greek infantry fire was 
very heavy, the battalion was ordered to halt in a 
fold of ground, to wait for Mahmud's advance on 
the right. Another battery now joined the Greek 
artillery, and some of their infantry advanced into a 
dip where we could see nothing of them. They 
were, however, mounting the opposite slope and 
constructing entrenchments at the top, where they 
occupied a position between our right wing and the 
cavalry in the plain. 

By nine o'clock in the morning Hakki Pasha had 



\ 



72 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

brought four of his battalions and two batteries into 
action down to the left and near the lake. Opposed 
to them was the enemy's force in the woods and 
some guns on the heights above. The combat 
between them continued all day, but no advance 
was made on either side, and the lake precluded 
any flank movement. The firing was seldom very 
heavy, and for the most part at ranges of five or 
six hundred yards. The Turks, however, being in 
ploughed fields, suffered more considerably than the 
Greeks, who were intrenched among the trees. 
Our right wing had still been unable to advance in 
any force. 

At midday four squadrons which had been col- 
lected by Mahmud charged against the line of 
infantry fortified on the centre hill. It was a 
most foolish and useless act, and cannot be excused 
by the alleged supporting advance of the right 
wing. That wing had never made good its posi- 
tion, being outnumbered, and was at the time at 
least 1,200 yards away. There is, indeed, no doubt 
that if at that moment the enemy's intrenchments 
had been carried a general advance would have been 
possible, a§ the cavalry could have threatened the 
flank of the Greek batteries in rear. But cavalry 
was not the proper arm to employ in front, and the 
consequence was disastrous. 

The 400 odd troopers rode across a level stretch 
of ground and up the slope of the hill at a trot, 
subjected the whole time to a heavy fire from the 



IX THE FIRST BATTLE OF VELESTINO 73 

shelter trenches. Had the aiming of the Greeks 
been even respectable, half the force should have 
been killed. As it was they lost some forty men, 
and within fifty yards of the infantry the trumpets 
blew the "retire," and the squadrons wheeled about 
and galloped back, which under the circumstances 
was the only sensible thing they could do. That the 
charge should have been made at all is inexplicable, 
and the only reason there can have been for it was 
that Mahmud perceived that unless the advanced 
Greek infantry was driven in before it had made its 
position impregnable, the Turks would have to retire. 
He used the only troops he had to hand. 

After this there was a lull, and our right wing 
retired a little along the line of hills. At two o'clock 
a company of the enemy advanced to reoccupy 
Kephalo, which had been for some time deserted, 
but they were met and repulsed by the Turks. 
There was a little bayonet fighting, and a dozen or 
fifteen men were killed on either side, the Turks 
remaining in possession of the huts. This pause 
continued until nearly four o'clock, though the fact 
that since early morning four trains had been seen to 
come in to Velestino augured that the Greeks were 
bringing up reinforcements. This was soon borne 
out by a fresh infantry fire, which began again with 
all the violence of that of the morning, while at the 
same time the four Greek batteries poured shell and 
shrapnel on the Turkish guns, which were saving 
their ammunition. The fusillade from the heights 



74 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

also recommenced, and our right wing began to 
descend the hills, being quite outflanked by the 
enemy's force there. There was not, however, the 
least semblance of panic. The men, perfectly con- 
scious that at least double their number of troops 
were opposed to them, strolled over the ground in 
the casual and nonchalant manner which characterises 
them under the most murderous fire. In the mean- 
time the Greek artillery continued firing heavily, and 
two more batteries were brought up on Pilaf T6p6 ; 
so that it became obvious that as no fresh reinforce- 
ments had arrived or were as yet expected from 
Larissa, some sort of a retiring movement would 
have to be executed. 

The Turks, however, remained in their positions 
until after six, when the infantry began to trail 
slowly back to Gherli, the artillery continuing the 
fire for another two hours. They then retired 
also, watched and followed by the powerful search 
lights of the warships in Volo harbour, which gave 
a weird effect to the scene. The Greeks did not 
advance during the night, and next morning the 
actual position was very much the same as it had 
been two days before, when we arrived at Gherli. 

The conduct of the Turkish infantry in the battle 
was admirable, though I fancy their fire obtained 
little result, having regard to the expenditure of 
ammunition. The batteries were more useful, and 
more care was shown in laying the guns than I 
had hitherto noticed. The cavalry did all the work 



IX THE FIRST BATTLE OF VELESTINO 75 

that fell to their share with courage, but squadron 
leaders showed no remarkable skill. 

On the Greek side the infantry fire was destructive, 
and their artillery practice in the afternoon was well 
judged,, and would have been much more effective if 
all the shells had burst, which they did not. More 
offensive tactics might possibly have resulted in some 
slight success ; but the Greeks probably recognised 
that the forcing of the Velestino position by the 
Turks was merely a matter of days, and were 
satisfied with having fulfilled their duty, and gained, 
which they certainly did, a respite of a week. It 
was their most successful action, and made it clear 
that they could be made into good troops with 
proper discipline and officering. The stronger test 
of a defeat showed their lack of these requisites. 

The expenditure of ammunition was as usual 
enormous, and out of all proportion to the number of 
casualties ; it would have been even greater had the 
Turks not been compelled to husband their cart- 
ridges as the day wore on ; for this became neces- 
sary because of the absence of any system of supply 
from Larissa. Some of the battalions were nearly 
run out of ammunition by the evening. 

The reverse, however, was only discreditable to 
the Turkish generalship, for the position, against 
which a totally inadequate force was launched, was 
strong enough to merit the name, which it subse- 
quently received, of a ** second Plevna." 



CHAPTER X 



THE ACTION OF PHARSALA 



The first battle of Velestino was a brilliant fight, 
but except for its reconnoitring results practically 
useless. It may be regarded as an isolated event, 
which was not part of Edhem Pasha's general plan 
and which affected his advance very little. He had 
now fully appreciated the defensive position occupied 
by the Greeks and called their ** second line," which 
I will once more briefly describe, as its idea must be 
understood to explain the subsequent strategy. This 
line was to all intents and purposes the railway from 
Pharsala to Velestino. The main base was at Volo, 
in rear of the latter position, but another line of 
retreat lay open, should it be needed, to Domoko. 
Here the Greeks could be joined by such troops as 
had retired on Volo and the sea, and here also they 
could again close the land approaches to Athens. 
As long as Pharsala held out, Volo acted as the 
supply depot, but directly the army retired the base 
was transferred to Lamia. 

The railway from Velestino to Pharsala, after 




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HERMOPYLAC 



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PUBLIC LIBRARY 



A8T0R, LENOX AND 
TILDSN FOUNDATIONS, 



CH. X THE ACTION OF PHARSALA n 

winding in and out of a narrow range of hills for a 
few miles, runs along a broad and level valley. On 
the north rise the heights of Cynoscephalae, beyond 
which lies the plain of Larissa ; on the south are the 
outlying peaks of the Othrys. Between these and 
the railway and parallel to the latter flows the 
Enipeus river. The Greeks were concentrated in 
force at the two ends of the line — their force at 
Velestino being estimated at 12,000 men and that 
at Pharsala at double that number. In the centre 
several batteries and a small body of infantry were 
posted on the heights of Cynoscephalae. The 
extreme right on Pilaf T6p6 was very strong : guns 
of position had been dragged up the heights, and on 
the lower slopes Smolenski had intrenched his 
infantry on all sides. 

The rest of the position at Velestino was also, 
as I have said, very formidable, and the Greeks 
evidently expected there the main Turkish attack. 
The same, however, could not be said of Pharsala, 
for though the plain supplied an excellent glacis, the 
town lay at the foot of a spur, and its western flank 
could be turned from the direction of Trikkala. The 
natural advance of the Turks would have been by 
Velestino, for had that town been taken first, the 
force at Pharsala would have been for the moment 
cut off from the sea and might have been enveloped, 
whereas by striking first with his right wing Edhem 
must infallibly drive the enemy back on their base. 

The latter was, however, the plan he elected to 



78 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

pursue, and it was carried out as follows : — On May 
I St, the troops at Gherli were strengthened by four 
battalions, two batteries and a squadron, bringing the 
total up to about ii,ooo men. This division for the 
present remained inactive, and practically merely 
served as a masking force. A continual accession 
of strength, however, went on during the next week, 
all the independent Albanian battalions that came in 
being sent on to Hakki, so that by the 7th he must 
have had 15,000 men under his command. On the 
2nd, 3rd, and 4th the divisions that lay to the south 
of Larissa, those of Hamdi, Memdoukh, and Nechat, 
advanced on a parallel front until within five miles 
of Pharsala, meeting with no opposition. 

On the 3rd Hairi's vanguard occupied Karditsa 
without any engagement, and on the 4th news 
arrived from Elassona that the head of the 7th 
(Husni's) Division had passed that town and that 
Islam Pasha was advancing from Diskata with 
10,000 men in support of Hairi. 

On that day a feint was made from Gherli, and 
two extra trains were in consequence sent from 
Pharsala to Velestino, presumably containing rein- 
forcements; there was, however, little fighting. 

On the morning of the 5th Edhem Pasha, who 
had gone forward with the headquarters staff to a 
village called Karademirtsi, directed a reconnaissance 
in force to be made across the Pharsala plain. This 
was supported by a general advance of the army. 

The Turkish vanguard, consisting of four bat- 



X THE ACTION OF PHARSALA 79 

talions, four squadrons, and two batteries, accordingly 
advanced and came into action with the Greek out- 
posts in the centre of the plain about midday. The 
latter had the same amount of artillery, no cavalry, 
and half the number of infantry. A smart fight 
ensued, lasting for an hour and a half, when the 
enemy began to fall back on the railway line. The 
retirement was conducted slowly and methodically, 
and the Turkish cavalry failed to make any im- 
pression on its rate. The Greek artillery fire was 
exceedingly good, and the position along the rail- 
way embankment was held for another hour. By 
five o'clock, however, they were again in retreat and 
crossed the river as evening came on. The Turks did 
not advance beyond the railway, but waited for Hairi, 
who was a little behind the other columns, to come up 
into line. A dropping cannonade went on until dark, 
when there was silence, and the Greek bivouac fires 
could be seen blazing on the other side of the river. 
The Turks slept in the positions they had taken 
and advanced at dawn, but met with no opposition, 
and it soon became clear that the town had been 
evacuated. The Greeks retiring during the night 
along the road to Domoko had also left the heights 
immediately behind Pharsala unoccupied. Accord- 
ingly one brigade of Hamdi Pasha's division crossed 
the river and entered the town, and outposts were 
pushed forward a mile to the south. No pursuit, 
however, was undertaken. Nearly all the in- 
habitants had fled, leaving their houses empty. 



So WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

but four guns, a quantity of ammunition, and over 
fifty prisoners were captured. It was, therefore, 
assumed that the Greek flight had again partaken 
of the nature of a panic. That night two or 
three isolated cases of burning took place in the 
villages on the plain where no bodies of troops 
were stationed. These were due to small detach- 
ments of Albanians, who had been left behind by 
their battalions. Whenever an officer was present 
the discipline was admirable, and all the marauding 
that occurred was done by groups of four or five 
men. Most of the villages indeed were deserted 
by their inhabitants, who had carried off what they 
could, and beyond shooting the pigs, which was 
very needlessly done for amusement, and taking an 
occasional sheep, the Turks did little damage. 
There was, however, more laxity noticeable than 
after Larissa, and the fault lay in the inefficient 
organisation of the lines of communication where 
there was no thorough or efficient control. At the 
front everything was excellently managed; but on 
the road in rear a few irresponsible camp followers 
were inclined to give trouble. 

The immediate effect of the action of Pharsala was 
that the Greek batteries that had been posted on 
the Cynoscephalae hills retired towards Velestino, 
where Hakki had made a second and much more 
vigorous attack. He had indeed made a forward 
movement on the evening of the 4th, and had 
then retired, and this was construed into a Greek 



X THE ACTION OF PHARSALA 8i 

victory. He fought his battle next day, 5th, and 
the details I shall give in the next chapter. Husni 
Pasha, with the Afion Karahissar division, had now 
arrived at Larissa, and in the meantime another 
event of interest and importance had also taken 
place. This was the arrival of the Red Crescent 
contingent, which was alluded to in Chapter II. 

The day after war was declared, Sir Edgar Vincent 
had telegraphed to me asking me to find out what 
medical assistance in the way of doctors or appliances 
would be most grateful and useful to the Turkish 
army. I saw Achmet Pasha, the Surgeon-General, 
and transmitted his requests to Sir Edgar Vincent, 
who mobilised in Constantinople, and despatched to 
the front in less than four days the Red Crescent. 
This consisted of a superintendent, six doctors, 
six hospital assistants, 200 beds, coverlets and mat- 
tresses, and an immense stock of medical appliances, 
drugs, dressings, etc. Journeying by way of Salonika 
and Sorovitch they chartered caravans at that place 
and came the remaining 160 miles by road, arriving 
at Larissa on April 30th. The whole undertaking 
was a triumph of organisation and speed, and its 
humanity and practical use did much to maintain 
British prestige and the idea of British wealth with 
a nation that appears likely to soon forget both. 

The actual good done by Dr. Lardy and his sub- 
ordinates was incalculable, as the Turkish hospitals 
were getting overcrowded and running short of 
material ; indeed, I think it is not going beyond a 

G 



82 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY CH. x 

reasonable figure to say that the Red Crescent 
saved the lives of at least two hundred Turkish 
soldiers. Some difficulty was at first experienced 
in assuaging the jealousy of the Ottoman medical 
authorities, but directly the Red Crescent was esta- 
blished at Larissa (and later at Pharsala and 
Domoko) it proved its own voucher, for every 
wounded Turk that came in asked to be sent to 
'* Banka Khasta Khan^si." The tales of the forti- 
tude and endurance displayed within its walls are 
legion — one may suffice as an example. A Turkish 
soldier lying on the operating table was having his 
lower jaw cut away (as usual without an anaesthetic) ; 
in the middle, and at the most painful moment of 
the job, he stopped the surgeon, and pointing to a 
comrade who was lying hard by smoking and waiting 
his turn, "Never mind me," he said, **look after 
him ; he wants a light." 



CHAPTER XI 

THE SECOND BATTLE OF VELESTINO 

Edhem Pasha had now got his right wing con- 
siderably more forward to the south than his left, 
and no further advance could safely take place until 
Volo was in his hands. The possession of this place 
could never be of any real value to the Turks, as it 
was unfortified, and therefore at the mercy of the 
Greek fleet, should the latter decide to bombard it ; 
but this eventuality was improbable, as the admiral 
had not enough men to effect any permanent 
landing, and a wanton destruction of Greek or 
international property must in any case accompany 
whatever damage the ships could do to the few 
Turkish troops that would occupy the town. Edhem 
had decided to send a strong force along the 
Pharsala valley to turn the Greek left flank, and at 
the same time to direct the main attack against Pilaf 
T6p6, and the hills behind Velestino. Hakki Pasha, 
now in command of a strong division, had moved 
forward from Gherli on the 4th, and there had been 
a little fighting, after which the Greeks had retired 

G 2 



84 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

I 

I 

from their most advanced line of intrenchments, and 
Hakki had fallen back a mile. On the morning of 
the 5th he received news from Edhem that the 3rd 
Division should advance to his support, and that 
Hamdi Pasha would co-operate with him on his 
right flank. The Greek artillery on the heights of 
Cynoscephalae would then be compelled to with- 
draw, and the moral effect of the loss of Pharsala 
would probably cause a further retirement on the 
part of the enemy. 

Accordingly on the morning of the 5th May a 
very strong force of infantry, over 8,000 strong, 
supported by the fire of five batteries, commenced 
the attack on Velestino. 

The Greeks had altogether four successive lines 
of fortifications rising one above the other up the 
slopes of the hills, and on the top of Pilaf T6pe they 
had mounted six guns in position, from which, by the 
way, no shot was ever fired. Otherwise the position 
was very similar to that described in Chapter IX, 
and it is therefore unnecessary to dwell at much 
length on the minor details. 

A heavy and continuous infantry fire was kept 
up from the plain during the whole day, and the 
Turkish artillery occupying the more advanced 
mamelons was able after finding the exact range to 
search out the Greek intrenchments. The enemy 
had only mountain artillery, and some of this was 
concealed at first and necessitated the employment 
of indirect fire ; here less effective results were 



XI THE SECOND BATTLE OF VELESTINO 85 

obtained. A forward movement was maintained by 
the Turks against Cynoscephalae all morning, and 
by two o'clock in the afternoon the Greeks had 
retired from their second line of shelter trenches 
there without leaving any considerable number of 
dead. 

Edhem Pasha had not, of course, arrived from 
Pharsala, wher^ an action was taking place, and as 
Hakki had never contemplated taking Velestino by 
assault, which would have involved a needless loss 
of life, fighting was stopped for the day, and the 
arrival of Memdoukh's division and the advance of 
Hamdi on the right were awaited. 

Velestino had, however, already been deserted, 
though of this the Turks were as yet unaware ; but 
early next morning the advancing troops were only 
answered by a fire from the extreme heights of Pilaf 
Tepe, and on the cavalry pressing forward it was 
discovered that both the town and the third line of 
earthworks beyond it had been deserted. At the 
same time the Greeks above, though firing with their 
mountain guns, were occupied in dismounting the 
siege pieces which had been so laboriously dragged 
up some days before. Of this we knew nothing, 
and anticipating a final and more desperate stand 
from the almost impregnable position above, Hakki 
decided to delay a little longer until Hamdi had 
come into contact with the enemy. 

In this way the whole of the 6th May and most 
of the 7 th were wasted, and all that was done was 



86 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

that Hakki pushed forward his skirmishing lines, and 
drove the few remaining Greek troops of the right 
wing back on the batteries above. Memdoukh did 
not arrive until the afternoon of the 7th, having 
marched nearly all night, and his troops were then 
so tired that it was judged best to let them rest 
before attempting to turn or carry the position of 
Pilaf T6p6, which was still believed to be held ; 
also it was then too late in the day to embark on 
any movement on a large scale. In the meantime 
Velestino had been occupied, and Edhem Pasha, 
who had arrived from Pharsala, had established his 
temporary headquarters in one of the houses, the 
outposts having been pushed forward half a mile 
beyond the town. 

That night Weldon, Sonnenberg and myself 
bivouacked with an Albanian battalion, the colonel 
of which very kindly gave us a tent and some dried 
fish. We firmly expected to see a big battle next 
day, and had not as yet profited by our experience 
and guessed that the last of the Greeks had already 
decamped from their mountain top, and were even 
then embarking at Volo en route for Lamia and the 
main body at Domoko. 

At dawn Memdoukh's division set out to the left 
on a long turning march, by which he was to pass 
the enemy's right and come down on Volo. Hardly 
had he started, however, when news came in from 
the outposts that a deputation from the Consular 
Corps had arrived from Volo to confer with the 



XI THE SECOND BATTLE OF VELESTINO 87 

Field- Marshal. At the same time the heights of 
Pilaf T6p6 were reconnoitred and reported empty, 
and the vedettes accordingly moved slowly forward, 
meeting with no one except a few peasants. 

Uncertain as to whether the entire force of the 
enemy had retreated on Volo, and wishing also 
to sweep the hills and disperse any irregular bands 
that might still be about, Edhem ordered Memdoukh 
to continue his march over the shoulders of Pelion, 
which he did, and descending into the plain of Volo 
next afternoon, returned to his original position at 
Velestino, whence he marched to Pharsala on 
the 9th. 

All fighting being therefore over for the moment, 
nothing remains but to describe the interesting 
episode of the Consular deputation. On the 6th the 
Greek troops had come pouring in from Velestino 
and had at once commenced embarking on board 
their men-of-war lying in the harbour. A panic 
naturally then commenced among the civil popula- 
tion, and the Consuls of England and France and 
the Consular Agents of Austria, Russia, and Italy 
accordingly met together and decided to depute two 
of their number to go to meet Edhem Pasha and 
request his peaceable occupation of a defenceless 
town. 

The two Consuls were selected by their colleagues, 
and they first visited the Greek Admiral, who would 
make no definite promise about not shelling the 
town, but gave them to understand that if no out- 



88 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

rages or fires took place he would probably take no 
offensive action. Escorted by six bluejackets with 
flags from the British, French and Italian warships 
then lying in Volo Harbour, and accompanied by a 
few war correspondents, the Consuls next set out on 
their adventurous ride, or rather drive, about one in 
the morning of the 8th. All the Greek troops 
were then on board, and the town was convulsed 
with fear. Going very slowly in the dark the 
Consuls were challenged by the Turkish sentries 
about 3.30 a.m., and by very good luck not fired on. 
Their arrival was reported to Edhem Pasha, who 
received them an hour later. They then explained 
the state of affairs, and requested in the name of the 
town that the Turkish occupation should be peace- 
fully effected, and that security of person and property 
should be insured. To this Edhem Pasha at once 
assented, and the deputation started back with one 
of the Imperial aide-de-camps, while some cavalry 
and two battalions were ordered to enter and 
take possession of Volo. 

On getting there about nine o'clock we found the 
shops shut and the population somewhat excited, but 
otherwise the situation seemed normal. The Sultan's 
proclamation, in the sense of Edhem's guarantee, was 
immediately posted up on the walls of the town hall, 
and the mayor and municipal authorities were con- 
vened to discuss details with Enver Bey, who had 
been appointed military governor. The Greek flag- 
ship, the Psara^ with the Admiral on board, still lay 



XI THE SECOND BATTLE OF VELESTINO 89 

out in the roadstead, and the Admiral was momen- 
tarily reported to be preparing to bombard the town. 
This was, however, on the face of it an extremely 
improbable event, and in point of fact he was merely 
waiting for orders from Athens to rejoin the rest 
of the fleet in Halmyros Bay. That evening he 
weighed anchor and steamed off, and the shipping of 
Volo was then only represented by a British and a 
French gunboat and an Italian ironclad. These three 
ships, a Turkish corporal informed me next day, had 
been captured from the Franks by the Ottoman fleet, 
which had now sailed away to **take Crete." 

On the 8th, the day that Volo was occupied, patrols 
had been landed from the European ships to protect 
the Consulates, but at Edhem's request this duty was 
now taken over by the Turks. Everything remained 
very quiet, and there were no cases at all of burning 
or pillage, possibly due to the presence of inter- 
national representatives and to the small number of 
troops that were in the town. 

At Velestino the Turks had captured four guns 
and twenty cases of ammunition, and they now 
found two more guns and a quantity of war material 
and supplies of all sorts at Volo. Four other siege 
guns had also been sunk in the harbour by the 
Greeks, who had not had time enough to get them 
on board the fleet. There were, however, very 
few prisoners, such soldiers as had remained having 
exchanged their uniforms for the more secure garb 
of plain clothes. Besides these several ladies of 



90 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY CH. xi 

the British Red Cross, two or three belated war 
correspondents, and the staff of the railway, were all 
that remained of the personnel of the Greek army. 
The latter had, however, effected two master strokes 
before its departure. It had cut all the telegraph 
wires leading anywhere, which materially hindered 
the transmission of news to Europe, though it did not 
particularly affect the convenience or movements of 
the Ottoman forces ; and it had disembowelled all 
the locomotives, thereby raising the price of cabs 
to a premium. But a week later an adventurous 
Turkish officer of engineers discovered two home- 
less engines on the way to Trikkala, and a forgotten 
train somewhere near Pharsala. With the help of 
these he organised a railway service which ran once 
a day, and which was able to compete successfully 
with a mounted messenger. 

The incident is quoted not so much for its practical 
value, which was small, as to prove that there really 
were engineers, the existence of such a corps having 
been frequently questioned and even denied by some 
of the Europeans present with the army. 



=■■ 




^mfiaflr OmflMttmlf^nd^. 



[the newTork 
PUBLIC LIBRARY! 



^^5TOR, LENOX AND 
TM nicN FOUNDATtONS^ 



CHAPTER XII 



THE BATTLE OF DOMOKO 



Northern and Central Thessaly were now in 
the hands of the Turks, and it seemed that, unless 
a revolution occurred at Athens, the war must 
come to a speedy conclusion. The main body of 
the Greek army was concentrated at Domoko and 
a smaller force lay at Halmyros, supported by the 
fleet, while the Ottoman troops were massed at 
Pharsala, with the exception of the 5th Division, 
which still remained at Velestino. Edhem Pasha 
had therefore in his front line nearly 80,000 fighting 
men, while the Duke of Sparta commanded barely 
half that number. The Turks were in a fertile 
country, flushed by success and eager to go for- 
ward. On the other hand, their opponents had 
been driven into the barren mountain regions ; they 
were disorganised and dispirited, and dissension was 
rife in every department of their army. 

The change of feeling at Athens, consequent on 
the continued defeats, had affected the political situa- 
tion, and the new Greek Cabinet under M. Ralli, after 



92 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY CHAP. 

its first bellicose declarations, appeared anxious to 
accept the mediation which the Great Powers were 
still willing to undertake. It is not my intention to 
discuss the exchange of notes that went on between 
the Governments of the two belligerents and the 
representatives of the Powers during the ten days 
that elapsed between the taking of Volo and the 
battle of Domoko. The net result was that by May 
1 7th no armistice had been actually signed, and it is 
not generally known whether or not Edhem Pasha 
had by then been notified of the Porte's intention 
to cease hostilities. It is, however, certain that had 
he advanced on Domoko a week earlier than he 
actually did, he could have inflicted a much more 
crushing blow on the Greeks, who were then neither 
ready nor fortified ; but in the absence of diplomatic 
data one must forbear either to blame Edhem's 
strategy or to question the Porte's good faith. 

On the morning of the 9th the headquarters staff", 
which had slept at Velestino, rode to Larissa, and 
next day proceeded thence to Tekke, a small village 
four miles north of Pharsala. Five divisions were 
now encamped in the plain, for Memdoukh and 
Hamdi had returned from Velestino, and Haidar had 
come up from the Milona Pass and Larissa. Some 
of the cavalry squadrons had obtained remounts from 
among the fresh packhorses coming in from the 
provinces, but the arm generally remained very weak, 
and was being continually drawn on for outside 
services. 



XII THE BATTLE OF DOMOKO 93 

On the nth May a reconnaissance was made in 
the direction of Domoko, and some of the cavalry 
got close to the town. Beyond reporting that the 
enemy were there in force, and that they had 
fortified the heights, they brought back but little 
information. Edhem Pasha, however, now changed 
his tactics, and determined to employ a strong and 
prominent left wing in his next advance. Accord- 
ingly Hakki was directed to push forward from 
Velestino and dislodge the enemy's brigade in front 
of Halmyros. This he did, after a slight skirmish^ 
in which Mr. Montgomery and Baron von Binder, 
the special correspondents of the Standard and the 
Fremdemblatt respectively, were taken prisoners by 
the Greeks and sent to Athens. The Greek land 
forces retired in the direction of Lamia, while the 
fleet, which had been hitherto cruising in the Gulf 
of Volo with its headquarters at Halmyros Bay, 
now retired to the Island of Skiatho and the mouth 
of the Atalanta Channel, continuing the blockade 
of the ports of Salonika and Volo on all shipping 
except warships of neutral powers. 

On the 14th the troops from Metzovo belonging to 
the army of Janina advanced in order to establish 
connection with Islam Pasha at Trikkala, and Edhem 
was then appointed to the chief command of all the 
Imperial forces in Thessaly and Epirus. 

In the meantime the commissariat arrangements 
at Pharsala were not by any means doing welL 
The presence of an immense number of men for ten 



94 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

or twelve days had begun to tell on the resources of 
the plain, and during the week before the battle of 
Domoko it was extremely hard to get food of the 
most simple kind. The Greeks appear to have been 
in no better case, for deserters were continually- 
coming in to the Turkish camp with tales of the 
destitution and disorganisation that existed in the 
Hellenic lines ; and it became manifest that a move 
must be made in some direction, or that the transport 
of supply must be accelerated and enlarged. Both 
the Turkish and the Red Crescent medical authorities 
had established field hospitals at Pharsala ; and a 
Russian cruiser, the DonetZy arrived in Volo on 
the 1 3th with a detachment of the Red Cross, who 
at once proceeded to Pharsala, accompanied by an 
oflficer charged with a private mission to the Com- 
mander-in-Chief 

All these indications premised that, in spite of the 
negotiations that were known to be under discussion 
at Constantinople and Athens, some further fighting 
was contemplated, at any rate in the Turkish camp ; 
and this idea was still further confirmed by the ad- 
vance of the remaining brigade of Hakki Pasha's 
division to Halmyros, and the departure of Mem- 
doukh's division in the same direction on the night 
of the 15th. The utmost secrecy, however, had 
been observed ; and though the natural point of 
attack seemed to be Domoko, many expected a 
battle further to the east, while there were some who 
firmly believed that the Greek fleet, abandoning its 



k 



xn THE BATTLE OF DOMOKO 95 

passive rdle, was going to make a descent on 
Volo, to land troops and to cut the Turkish lines of 
communication. This diversion, though it could 
have no permanent success nor be ot any material 
value, might create a temporary change of feeling in 
Europe, and the iclat of the recapture of Volo 
might obtain for the Hellenic Government better 
terms of peace than it could otherwise have cause to 
expect. As we know, however, no such move was 
made ; and the Greek Admiral, either in consequence 
of his orders or from his lack of initiative, was content 
to lie idle outside the Gulf of Volo, and to allow the 
war to finish without having struck one decisive 
blow, and without having in any way made effective 
use of the one arm in which the Greeks were 
supposed to excel their opponents. 

On the night of the 15th Hakki concentrated his 
division in the advanced position of Halmyros, and 
Memdoukh formed the second step of the echelon 
by moving forward on his right rear. On the 
afternoon of the i6th far greater preparations were 
made, for the entire force at Pharsala paraded and 
prepared to advance. The general headquarters 
came forward from Tekke, the outposts were rein- ^ 

forced by a cavalry brigade, and every sign was 
given of an approaching engagement. About seven 
in the evening the troops began their march, and, 
going very slowly as the darkness came on, 
bivouacked at midnight within five or six miles of 
Domoko. No enemy had been met with, and the 



96 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

hill country through which we had passed seemed as 
deserted as it was silent. At first it had appeared 
as if Edhem Pasha intended delivering a night 
attack ; but this idea was dispelled as soon as the 
divisions halted, and we understood that the fight 
was to be reserved for the morrow. The troops 
slept till dawn and then breakfasted, and soon after 
six recommenced their march. The order of the 
advance in column, which was also the line of battle, 
was as follows, viz. : — 

On the extreme right was Hairi, with the First 
Division ; he was somewhat in rear of the rest of the 
line and covered the corps artillery. Next on his 
left came Nechat (Second Division), his first brigade 
being armed with the new Mauser rifle ; beyond him 
was Hamdi ; and two miles in rear of the latter, for 
a reserve, was Haidar Pasha, who had had no fight- 
ing since the Battle of Milona. Five miles away 
Memdoukh was on the left front of Hamdi, and 
beyond him again Hakki formed the most advanced 
and southern face of the echelon. The idea of the 
battle then was to drive the Greeks away from their 
base at Lamia, and to cut off effectively their line of 
retreat from Domoko. Neither of these objects were 
attained, and though the Greeks by the most 
inexcusable blunders relinquished an almost im- 
pregnable position and omitted to hold another vital 
point behind, yet the Turks practically obtained the 
minimum amount of success, and what they did 
obtain simply by courage and weight of numbers. 



THE NEW YORK 

PUBLIC LIBRARY 



ASTOR, LENOX AND 
TIl.DE-N FOUNDATIONS, 



SKETCH OF BATTLE OF DOMOKO, MAY 17. 




TURKS.REO. GREEKS- BLACK. 



iStanfordHs Geog^SeuMLondai 



LondoiL JfELomiUan & Co Jj . 



XII THE BATTLE OF DOMOKO 97 

As we emerged from the hills that fringe its 
northern edge, the plain of Domoko with its rocky 
citadel burst upon our view. The scene was so 
remarkable and so typical of Greece that it merits 
some fuller description. 

Beyond a broad valley some ten miles long and 
five broad, dotted with a few cornfields, but for the 
most part coverjsd with wild grass, rose a frowning 
height. The face of this rock was traversed by a 
succession of natural terraces rising one above the 
other and marking the ascent of the winding road 
that led to the summit, where stood the town and 
fortress of Domoko, perched up aloft and dominating 
from its crags the entire plain below. 

Four miles to the left the valley ended in a cul de 
sac, the northern and southern hills meeting one 
another in a narrow gorge : to the right the country 
gradually widened out until a lower chain of moun- 
tains lifted the eye to the mighty Pindus range 
beyond. 

The interest of the landscape was however almost 
entirely eclipsed by the contemplation of what was 
probably one of the strongest defensive positions 
ever selected by a general. At the foot of the 
opposite cliff lay three or four lines of infantry 
intrenched, only to be descried by the artificial 
straightness of their earthworks. Beyond these 
some dense black masses marked their reserves, 
while behind and above each terrace bristled with 
cannon, their muzzles peeping through the embra- 

H 



98 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

sures, until oa the very crest four great siege guns 
crowned the ramparts of the citadel, completing the 
defence. 

On debouching into the plain Hamdi at once 
moved off to the left, and began to scale the hills 
at the eastern end of the valley ; by ten o'clock we 
had lost sight of him, but we could hear the sound 
of his infantry firing all day, and sometimes could 
even distinguish the cannonade of Memdoukh far 
away to his left. Hamdi performed a long and 
wearisome flank march, and had comparatively little 
fighting, but it was almost entirely due to his patient 
advance that one day terminated the battle, and that 
both sides were spared the immense loss of life that 
would inevitably have accompanied an assault. 

At the same time that Hamdi commenced his 
march to the left Hairi moved in a diagonal direc- 
tion half-right, and after proceeding about three 
miles halted and piled arms behind a broad low 
mamelon that lay a mile and a half from the foot of 
the Domoko cliff. 

Haidar Pasha and Riza with the head of the 
corps artillery, remained at the entrance to the 
plain, so that on the Second Division devolved the 
main attack, and, as will be seen, the real brunt of 
the battle. A few shots were fired about midday by 
a line of two of its battalions extended in skirmishing 
order, and the most forward Greek outposts at once 
fell back on the first intrenchments, and a pause of 
nearly two hours ensued. This was to allow the 



XII THE BATTLE OF DOMOKO 99 

divisions on the left to make good their advance 
and to preserve the echelon of the army. 

At 2 P.M. the first (Islam Pasha's) brigade of 
Nechat's division, which had been halted a mile 
from the enemy, deployed and commenced to 
advance. Firing, which had been carried on for 
some time on the left, now at once commenced in 
earnest, and the brigade (six battalions in line of 
quarter columns) changed its formation to line. 

The Greek artillery, which had evidently studied 
and learnt the range, poured in shrapnel during the 
execution of this movement with disastrous effect. 
Nechat then sent two batteries forward, and they 
proceeded to shell the trenches, but it was impossible 
to see with what result. 

Hairi on the right advanced a single battery, 
which fired about a dozen shots and then relapsed 
into silence. No attempt, however, was made to 
bring up the corps artillery. In consequence Islam 
was practically unsupported, and had to continue his 
attack over level ground varied by occasional corn 
fields, in the teeth of a most murderous shrapnel 
fire from an almost invisible enemy. 

This advance went on for about an hour and a 
half, during which the 5,000 men composing the 
attacking force lost nearly one fifth of their numbers 
killed or wounded. It was the most inhuman 
spectacle imaginable, as the men could be seen 
dropping right and left, while the masses of their 
comrades of the ist Division remained in rear 






loo WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

protected by the ground and apparently without 
any intention of going to their support. 

The forward movement was necessarily of the 
slowest, and in the ninety odd minutes that it 
lasted barejy i,ooo yards were gained. The firing 
throughout was furious, and, though the losses on 
both sides were very heavy, the expenditure of 
ammunition was as usual out of proportion to the 
casualties. At no moment, however, could one 
notice the least sign of wavering in the Turkish 
line, and the men engaged appeared to regard the 
whole thing as a pleasure excursion in which they 
had the good fortune to be in front. 

At half-past four the fire slackened very noticeably, 
as both sides were beginning to run out of ammuni- 
tion ; and then, and only then, did Nechat deploy 
the second brigade of his division. At the same 
time the long expected batteries of the corps artillery 
could be seen approaching across the plain. 

The second brigade came up comparatively 
rapidly, and the Greeks committed the unpardonable 
error of allowing it to advance without firing on it. 
By five o'clock it had arrived in line with the first 
brigade, and almost at the §ame moment the bursting 
of a Greek gun on the mountain side was signalised 
by a tall spirt of flame. The enemy then began to 
retire from the first line of intrenchments, and the 
Turks, 500 yards off, did not delay to follow them up. 

The tables were now turned. The Greek 
ammunition was nearly spent, the Turks had just 



XII THE BATTLE OF DOMOKO loi 

received a fresh supply. A rattling musketry fire 
was poured into the enemy's back, doing wide 
execution, and by half-past five Riza Pasha's leading 
batteries came into action alongside of Nechat's 
guns and began to rake the opposite slopes with 
shell and shrapnel. The Greek artillery replied in 
kind, and for a time no effort was relaxed by the 
gunners on either side. But it was obvious that, 
however much the retiring infantry might lose for 
the moment, directly they had all reached the shelter 
of the slopes, where the second line was intrenched, 
the effect of the Turkish fire on the protected guns 
of the Greeks would be comparatively small. The 
event seemed uncertain, and it remained for Hamdi 
to decide it. 

Few of the spectators had paid much attention to 
his advance, which was only distinguishable by ear ; 
and now, when at six o'clock his leading companies 
appeared on the hills near the Greek right flank, few 
realised who and what they were. Their identity, 
however, did not long remain doubtful, for in ten 
minutes a battery was in action and a sharp infantry 
fire was also enfilading the lower lines of the Greek 
guns. As his men poured over the summit of the 
hills the issue of the battle became clear. The 
enemy's guns in the lower terraces ceased firing, and 
their infantry began to mount still higher up the slopes. 
But it was getting late and also getting dark ; the only 
troops available to push the defeat home were 
already tired out, and some battalions were decimated 



I02 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY CH.xii 

twice over. Also Edhem Pasha, who was now with 
the artillery, rightly judged that a night's rest 
might in all ways produce as good net results for the 
Ottoman arms as a night attack. At eight o'clock^ 
therefore, firing was ceased, bivouac fires were 
lighted by the Turks in the Greek earthworks, and 
only a dropping cannonade far away to the east 
marked Memdoukh's distant advance. 

At dawn every one was on the move, but no shot 
sounded from the Greek lines, and as the Turkish 
infantry advanced it entered only empty trenches. 
The enemy, fearing to see their line of retreat cut^ 
and unwilling to risk any further loss, had fled in the 
night, leaving their big guns, much of their am- 
munition, and such baggage as they still possessed. 
On the whole there is no doubt that they had 
followed the wisest course. For as they had not 
protected either their flank or their rear, when both 
were threatened they had to elect between annihila- 
tion and retreat. It is no slur on their courage that 
they chose the latter. 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE OCCUPATION OF SOUTHERN THESSALY 

Fortunately for the Greeks neither Hakki nor 
Memdoukh had pushed sufficiently forward to enable 
them to effectively cut the line of retreat on Lamia. 
The reason of this was that the country over which 
they had to march was extremely mountainous and 
intersected by steep narrow ravines. It was neces- 
sary to keep their artillery with them, as they might 
meet with the entire force of the Hellenic army, 
and to do this they had to make long and tedious 
circuits. The consequence was that only Mem- 
doukh's advanced skirmishers came into contact with 
the enemy, who marched rapidly along the only 
road, and the Turks were thus unable to come to 
really close quarters or to inflict any permanent 
damage ; also their approach hastened the Greek 
flight. 

What advantage was taken of the Domoko 
victory was entirely due to the initiative of Hamdi 
and Sefulat Pashas. Hamdi, as we know, had 
occupied the lower hills to the east of Domoko 



I04 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

on the evening of the 17th, and was there much 
nearer to the road than any of the other 
Turkish troops. Sefulat, who was now chief of the 
General Staff, quickly saw this, and immediately 
came to the 6th Division and urged Hamdi to take 
up the pursuit, it being at that time difficult to com- 
municate with Edhem, who was some miles away. 
It was, however, impossible for Hamdi to advance at 
once, as his troops were tired out, and had barely 
eaten for twenty-four hours. But he ordered four 
battalions to commence the march at 6 a.m., and 
lent Sefulat his cavalry (one squadron) and one 
battery. Sefulat had also collected two more 
squadrons on his way to Hamdi, and with this 
force he prepared to follow up the entire Greek 
army. 

Starting at dawn on the i8th he pushed on with all 
speed, and by midday had arrived at the foot of the 
Phurka Pass, where the main Othrys range marks 
the southern boundary of Thessaly. The enemy had 
halted in some force on the heights, and a consider- 
able amount of time was wasted in endeavouring to 
discover how strong they were. As it happened, 
they did not utilise this interval to construct any in- 
trenchments, being indeed only a weak rearguard, 
and having halted more to reform and collect 
stragglers than to make any permanent resist- 
ance 

By three o'clock the four battalions from Hamdi*s 
division began to come up, and Sefulat then ad- 



XIII THE OCCUPATION OF SOUTHERN THESSALY 105 

vanced, making a great show with his battery, and 
dismounting his cavalry to assist in the attack. 

At five o'clock, as the troops got well up the pass, 
slight firing commenced from the enemy above, 
but a few well-directed shots from the Turkish 
artillery in the plain and a rattling fusillade from 
the infantry soon caused them to relinquish their 
position, and, after an engagement that lasted 
barely an hour, they retired down the slopes on the 
southern side of the pass and left the col free. 
The Turks immediately mounted and occupied the 
crest in force ; but darkness was already falling, and 
the men were also very tired, so Sefulat decided to 
halt there for the night. He had done all that was 
necessary; it was quite impossible with so few 
troops to pursue and cut up the retreating Greeks, 
whereas the possession of the pass, the last good 
defensible position on the road to the south, was of 
the utmost value. It was believed that the mass 
of the Greek army would make some stand in the 
plain of Lamia, where they were based on the fleet 
which lay in the bay, and where they had behind 
them Thermopylae, whose name, at any rate, might 
encourage them, though its natural strength was 
not by any means very great. 

The Turks spent the night on the Phurka Pass ; 
and early next morning, the 19th, the rest of Hamdi's 
division, with two extra batteries from the corps 
artillery, arrived, and began to cross the mountains. 
The road is not difficult, and by midday the entire 



io6 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

force was well in the plain, and, advancing towards 
the sea, found the Greeks drawn up in battle array 
some two miles to the north of Lamia. Nearly an 
hour before this, the skirmishers and cavalry that 
Sefulat had thrown forward had come into action, 
but the firing was only desultory. 

The Greeks were estimated at not more than 
10,000 strong, and they had only two batteries with 
them, so that it was obvious that no long stand could 
be made unless they received reinforcements. 

Their line lay along a low ridge of hills, and the 
infantry on both sides began firing at a distance of 
over 1,000 yards. The Greek artillery was not 
engaged, though the Turkish guns came into action. 
Rumours had now become general of an armistice, 
though as yet no one appeared to have any certain 
information. A deputation had come headed by the 
• Mayor of Lamia, asking for the peaceable occupation, 
of the town, which lay outside the actual field of 
operations, the main road to the south skirting it 
well on the right. Sefulat replied that he was 
unable to treat while the Greek forces lay between 
him and the city, but that if no resistance was made 
the civil population need fear nothing. The Mayor 
therefore went back about ten o'clock, and by i p.m. 
the conflict had become general. 

An hour later the fire slackened considerably on 
the Greek side, and almost at once a large white flag 
was hoisted in their lines, and the " cease firing*' was 
loudly blown. 



XIII THE OCCUPATION OF SOUTHERN THESSALY 107 

After a little delay the Turkish bugles also sounded, 
and in a few minutes two Greek staff officers, ac- 
companied by a trumpeter and a flag of truce, were 
seen to be advancing towards us. They were re- 
ceived by Sefulat Pasha, and a short conversation 
took place, after which the Greek officers rode back 
to their lines. No more firing took place, and the 
Greek troops soon began to move off in the direction 
of Thermopylae, leaving Lamia on their left, and 
by five o^clock were quite out of sight beyond the 
hills. 

The Turks, however, did not advance, nor was 
Lamia occupied, and it was then understood that 
Sefulat had agreed to a cessation of hostilities for 
twenty-four hours, during which the Turks under- 
took not to advance. 

This news was at once communicated to Edhem 
Pasha, who had remained at Domoko, and had now 
received his orders from Constantinople; and next 
day at one o'clock in the afternoon, before the expira- 
tion of the truce, a further mission arrived from the 
Crown Prince's head-quarters, and an armistice for 
fifteen days was signed by the representatives of 
both armies. 

The same day a similar armistice had been signed 
on the bridge at Arta by the respective commanders ; 
and on June 3rd a further arrangement was made by 
which all offensive operations were to be suspended 
during the progress of the peace negotiations, i.e. 
for an indefinite period. This, however, was ter- 



io8 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

minable by either party at twenty-four hours* 
notice. 

On May 20th, the foreign military attaches and 
the war correspondents took leave of the Commander- 
in-Chief at Domoko, and he then proceeded with his 
staff to meet the officers deputed by the Crown 
Prince, and with them to lay down the neutral zone 
some] 1,000 yards broad, into which the forces of 
neither army were to pass. 

On May 21st, Lamia was occupied by a few 
Turkish troops, but they were soon withdrawn under 
the conditions of the armistice. Up to date there 
have been several further reports of infractions of 
the armistice, but of the truth of these I am unable 
to speak, and they are probably events of small 
importance. 

The general situation in Thessaly was therefore 
as follows : — The Turkish forces lay along the 
ancient frontier except in the western Greek nom- 
archy, where the Hellenic army still held Arta. In 
Epirus, the events, very briefly summed up, had been 
that the Greeks under Colonel Manos had advanced 
up country as far as Pentepigadia, but after a few 
ephemeral successes they had been driven back to 
their starting point. Prevesa, a Turkish fort at the 
entrance to the Ambracian Gulf, had been bom- 
barded for some days by the Greek fleet, but had 
not succumbed, and to all intents and purposes the 
position on the Ionian coast was very much the same 
as it had been previous to the declaration of war. 



THE NEW YORkI 

POBLIC LIBRARY 



ASTO!^, LEHOX ANO 
TILDEN FOUNPATlOt^. 



■Zo fact -pdge 103. 



SKET 
Showing 

THE TURKISH \ 
on May 



A L B > 





XIII THE OCCUPATION OF SOUTHERN THESSALY 109 

In Thessaly headquarters remained for the time 
being at Domoko, and a field hospital was established 
there, as the last Turkish losses had been very severe. 
Indeed, the battle field the day after the fight was a 
really pitiful sight, being covered with corpses of 
men and horses, conspicuous amongst the enemy's 
dead being the Garibaldians with their red shirts. 
It is calculated that between three and four hundred 
Turks were killed at Domoko, and there were twice 
that number of wounded. 

Throughout the campaign, however, it was the 
most difficult thing in the world to get statistics of the 
casualties. It is doubtful whether any lists were kept, 
and even if they were they were probably incomplete, 
and would have been unreliable if communicated 
officially. Personally I believe that the total Turkish 
loss in dead was not much over 1,500, and the 
ordinary proportion of battles would give double 
that number of wounded. Therefore altogether, 
including the sick, who were few, it may be 
assumed that 5,000 represents the total number of 
men in the Ottoman army placed hors de combat 
during the war. 

As has been said then, the Turks had occupied the 
whole of Thessaly, the line held by their armies 
being p ractically shown by the course of latitude 39°. 
Most of their troops lay to the front, but the 4th 
Division still remained at Pharsala, and the 7th at 
Larissa. Islam Pashas command, which for the 
sake of identity I have marked in the maps as the 



no WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

9th Division, although it was never styled so, lay at 
Trikkala, and the communication between the armies 
of the east and west had been effected by the advance 
of a force from Metzovo, which now lay between 
Domoko and Arta. In the meantime, the 8th, or 
Konieh Division, which had been slowly coming 
over from Asia Minor by way of Rodosto, Salonika, 
and Sorovitch, had begun to arrive at Elassona, and 
by the 25th of May was concentrated at that place. 
The men, like the 7th Division, were armed with 
the Mauser rifle and were nearly all Redifs. We 
passed them on our way back to Salonika, and were 
especially struck by their hardy fit appearance and 
their pleasant manner. They looked every inch good 
fighting men. 

The country at that time, the end of May, seemed 
almost in its normal state again. Many of the 
Greeks had returned to their ordinary avocations, most 
of the shops were open in the towns, and some of the 
com was being cut in the fields. Macedonia was 
still more quiet, the peasants there being fully occu- 
pied with the transport of baggage and provisions 
for the advancing reinforcements. Since then there 
have been fresh mobilisations in Asia Minor and 
fresh movements of troops to the front. Also 
there have been reports of depredations by the 
Ottoman irregulars in Thessaly. As there are now 
few correspondents there, it is difficult to verify 
these statements, which all, of course, emanate from 
Greek sources. But while we were in Thessaly, 



XIII THE OCCUPATION OF SOUTHERN THESSALY iii 

beyond the occasional burning of a house, probably 
more due to carelessness than anything else, and 
the casual appropriation of a few sheep, there was 
hardly any pillage, and to my knowledge no 
outrage. It is of course wrong to burn an 
empty house or to steal a lamb ; but it must be 
remembered that the perpetrators of these crimes 
were wholly uneducated men from the wilds of Asia 
Minor, who were under the impression that they 
were obeying their sovereign's orders, and who were 
undoubtedly in the exercise of the ordinary rights of 
war. 

It is perhaps fair therefore not to be too hard 
on the Turks, and to remember that reports from 
purely Greek sources require to be authenticated 
before being unhesitatingly believed. 

On the other hand, even according to their own 
newspapers, the condition of the province of Phocis, 
where the Greek army took up its quarters after 
the armistice, is anything but secure. Bands of 
irregulars and itinerant parties of maraud ers appear 
to be as numerous as the King's forces, and prob- 
ably real pillage is much more common there than it 
is on the Turkish side of the zone. Outrage has 
not existed, or had not when I was there ; and 
although Edhem Pasha has been endowed by the 
Sultan with the title of " Ghazi," which means a 
*' religious conqueror," the war was at no time a 
religious war ; indeed, on the Ottoman side it was 



112 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY CH.xin 

hardly national. For both officers and men looked 
upon it more as a game than anything else ; and 
though intrigue may now give its results a false 
direction, in its execution it was purely a punitive 
enforcement of diplomacy. 



CHAPTER XIV 



CONCLUSION 



Having headed one s first chapter ** The Causes 
of the War," it seems in the fitness of things to end 
with the "War's Results." But as yet the results 
can hardly be known to the directors of the foreign 
policies of Europe. Nothing remains, therefore, 
but to give the general impressions produced by the 
campaign and its incidents on one who followed it 
more from its soldiering than its diplomatic side, and 
who was somewhat handicapped by being that most 
suspicious of all things to the Oriental mind, a news- 
paper correspondent. Having already dwelt rather 
lengthily on military details, a brief summary of 
matters connected with the armies will probably 
suffice the civilian reader. These can best be dealt 
with under the heads of strategy, tactics, the three 
arms, the non-combatant services, and general 
organisation. Beyond this a brief glance at what 
were really far more interesting, the national and 
individual characteristics of the men and their 
officers, will bring this record to an end. But 

I 



114 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

there is no doubt that if all the intrigues and inner 
history of the war were known, they would afford 
, a far more interesting study to the student of the 
Turk and the Greek than the most careful conside- 
ration of their respective warlike operations. For 
Oriental diplomacy, if it can be so called, is at any 
rate instructive in its devious courses. 

The strategy of the Turks was essentially dilatory ; 
but, though apparently always over cautious, they 
failed to show a just appreciation of the real dangers 
of war. They entirely ignored the true object of 
attack, the enemy's base, and advanced with a strong 
right instead of a strong left wing. They omitted 
to push home their advantages, and even the little 
cavalry they had was rarely employed. Immensely 
strong in artillery, they hardly ever made use of this 
arm in great masses ; and, having only to fear one 
thing, a cutting of their lines of communication, 
they left these during the first part of the campaign 
almost unprotected and in no way organised. On 
the other hand, they never made rash movements, 
they always concentrated a force superior to the 
enemy's before giving battle (except in Mahmud's 
case), and they evidently understood, though they did 
not always apply, the lessons taught by the Russo- 
Turkish war as regards the thousand and one non- 
combatant services which go to make up the back- 
bone of an army. 

The Greek strategy was on the whole reasonable 
— their main object, having declared war, was to 



XIV CONCLUSION 115 

gain time, and this they certainly managed to do, 
though more because of their enemy's halting ad- 
vance than from any other cause. Their com- 
missariat and supply arrangements were wretched, 
but this was simply because they had no material, 
not because they did not understand its necessity. 
In medical assistance they relied on Europe, and 
were not disappointed. By a succession of extra- 
ordinary tactics they invariably had to desert almost 
impregnable positions, but they always fell back 
on their base and their ships. Whether they were 
right in dividing their small forces is doubtful : 
probably they were ; for points like Trikkala and 
Larissa, Pharsala and Velestino, were equally 
dangerous in the enemy's hands ; but there is no 
doubt that they erred in the most deplorable 
manner in allowing their fleet to remain practically 
useless during the whole war, and to select for its 
ineffective attack the one place where it was unlikely 
to obtain any striking success, Prevesa. 

We now come to the region of tactics. The 
Turks' tactics, as far as they had any, were to bang 
away at the enemy till they beat him — an excellent 
idea when you have enough men, and in their 
case very successful. On one or two occasions 
some elementary movements, such as flank attacks, 
and once an envelopment, were evolved from the 
commanders' brains, but they never got much 
further and had little result to show. At the battle 
of Domoko had any but the Hellenic army been 

I 2 



n6 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

defending the position, Hamdi Pasha would never 
have scaled the hills ; as it was his advance passed 
for a triumph of tactical skill, rather than for a 
very heroic and plodding fighting march, which is 
what it really was. 

If, however, the Turks were deficient in this 
branch of the ethics of war the Greeks were 
many degrees below them. It is unfair to generalise 
from isolated incidents ; but one or two examples of 
their stupendous want of foresight to some extent in- 
dicate the main method of procedure. At Tyrnavos 
they left the telegraph line uncut ; at Larissa, 
Pharsala, and Domoko they deserted masses of 
Krupp ammunition ; at Velestino they dragged some 
great siege guns up to a commanding height, kept 
them there two days during a battle, never fired a 
shot from them, and then with infinite labour dragged 
them down only to sink them in the Gulf of Volo. 
They generally omitted to protect their flanks, they 
only once detailed a rearguard, and in no case did 
they ever attempt to retard the Turkish advance by 
the simple expedients of blowing up a bridge or 
erecting any kind of obstacle. 

It is a thankless task to find fault, though not 
very difficult ; and I can only adduce as my excuse 
that these opinions were supported by most of the 
European officers present, and that it is necessary to 
draw attention to the peculiar absence of tactical 
knowledge in both armies in order to do proper 
justice to the wonderful courage of the men. Of 



XIV CONCLUSION 117 

the three arms on both sides the artillery obtained 
the best results, the Greek fire being on the whole 
more destructive than that of the Turks. Among 
the latter, battery commanders had as a rule had 
some technical instruction, commanders of guns 
none. Shrapnel was often employed when shell 
would have done, and vice versa; and the drill, speed 
and manoeuvring were distinctly poor. The horses 
were kept in good order, and the supply of ammu- 
nition was as a rule up to the mark. The ranges 
were frequently misjudged towards the beginning of 
the war ; but latterly, especially on the Greek side, 
battery commanders evinced more aptitude than 
before. Firing was often begun when the enemy 
was too far off, and the effects of indirect fire were 
always poor among the Turks. The proportion of 
shell to bullet wounds was large, and this to some 
extent bore out the better aiming of the Greek 
gunners. 

The Greek cavalry I only saw once, and can- 
not therefore give an opinion of much value about 
it. It was said to consist of twelve squadrons, and 
the riding was reported as bad. Its best known 
exploit was the capture at Halmyros of two war 
correspondents. It seems to have been ill-disciplined, 
as the men threw away many of their heavier 
accoutrements at both Larissa and Pharsala. 

The Turkish cavalry was the most excellent 
material, well mounted, fairly led, and badly 
drilled. What they lacked in training, however. 



ii8 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

they made up in valour ; and had they only been a 
little more numerous, and given a few more oppor- 
tunities, they would no doubt have distinguished 
themselves considerably. The men were well dressed 
and the horses well cared for, though sometimes 
rather too fat. Squadron leaders were slow in the 
field, but the interior economy was good. Divisional 
cavalry was rarely employed, except in outside 
duties, and the commander of the cavalry division 
was not a Blucher. The remount arrangements 
were niL 

The chief arm was of course the infantry. Of the 
Turks the pure Osmanlis were distinctly the best 
soldiers, and the Albanians, as a whole, belied their 
reputation. They are not particularly amenable to 
discipline, and it is just conceivable that they might 
turn back if heavily pressed. On the other hand, 
the Turk, unless ordered, is incapable of running 
away, and when he has got an order he will observe 
it, ruat caelum. His courage and his calm and silent 
advance beggar description, and there is little doubt 
that when the Turkish army is really trained up to 
a high European standard it will be invincible. At 
present the shooting and the fire discipline are poor, 
not because the men do not obey, but because the 
officers do not command. A Turkish captain would 
as soon think of adjusting his men*s sights, or of 
ordering them to cease independent firing, as he 
would of reading a book on military history. 

The deployments, &c., were imperfect, and the 



XIV CONCLUSION 119 

advance by rushes did not exist ; nevertheless, there 
are few more inspiring sights than an attack of 
Turkish troops. 

As regards the Greek infantry, it is hard to come 
to a conclusion. Courage they certainly had, but 
only of a particular — the defensive — kind. Behind 
intrenchments they were excellent, but when it 
became a question of charging they appeared to 
lose their nerve. Their shooting and drill, if a little 
more superficial, was not really much better than 
that of the Turks. Their officers were by no means 
good, and their discipline was at no time reliable- 
Even the exceptional case of the flight from 
Tyrnavos must speak Volumes. No Turkish force 
could be driven to such a moral extremity. 

The Euzonoi, light troops and mountaineers, 
were the best of the Greek army. The rest were 
for the most part townsmen and labourers, who had 
no idea that they were undertaking anything more 
than a triumphal march to Salonika. When they 
discovered their mistake some of them deserted ; 
but the majority did their best to acquire in a 
short time the rudiments of a calling which was 
not their own, and for which they had no special 
aptitude. 

The Italian volunteers I believe gave more 
trouble than they were worth ; and the lack of 
organisation in the Foreign Legion tended generally 
to impair its fighting value. Its courage was, how- 
ever, beyond dispute, and it probably included the 



I20 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY CHAP. 

most honest and most fervid Phil-hellenes in the 
whole army. 

Of the non-combatant services I have already 
spoken in various places. Transport was good in 
the Turkish army, so was ammunition supply, as 
a rule. Engineers and technical arms, such as 
ballooning, heliographing, &c., were practically non- 
existent. Field-telegraph was reasonably ' quick, 
though under-officered. Postal service south of 
Elassona very slow and intermittent. Railway 
arrangements on the Monastir line good (under 
Austrian control); on the Larissa line very back- 
ward, and very long in getting under way. Staff 
work not up to the mark — orderlies much quicker 
than aides-de-camp — orders hardly ever written. 
Medical corps and transport of wounded fair but 
not remarkable (I am not of course alluding here to 
the Red Crescent). Censorship of the press erratic 
but not bigoted. The above are the main items. 

Of the corresponding services on the Greek 
side, the field train as a whole was sadly deficient, 
but the supply of ammunition in action was fairly 
well maintained. Transport of food, while in the 
plain and the bigger towns, was good ; latterly, 
when everything became demoralised, very poor 
indeed. Technical arms good in theory, but lack- 
ing in personnel. Telegraph service bad, generally 
consisting of only a single line, and this often 
entirely appropriated to the headquarters staff. 
Postal service at first spasmodic, latterly non-ex- 



XIV CONCLUSION 121 

istent. Railway service good (Russian manage- 
ment). Staff work, quick and efficient. Hospitals, 
&c., quite incompetent — but this service was dis- 
charged by detachments of the Red Cross, who 
worked efficiently and generously throughout. 
Transport of wounded (left to the army authorities), 
very bad. Censorship of the press quite remark- 
able. As I am informed by my colleagues on 
the Greek side, press telegrams, containing news in 
no way relating to military movements, and not even 
remarks detrimental to Greek prestige in general, 
were frequently not only tampered with or stopped 
without the senders being informed, but in several 
cases were absolutely altered and despatched to the 
European capitals containing a quite garbled version 
of the truth. No facilities for telegraphing were 
latterly given to correspondents, and the methods 
in which the examination and despatch of tele- 
grams was conducted by the military and political 
authorities at headquarters and Athens were as 
extraordinary as they were unsound. 

As to the question of organisation, the mobilisation 
schemes of both armies on paper were, of course, 
excellent The Turks carried through theirs for the 
most part, but on the Greek side nearly all the plans 
broke down. 

In the Ottoman army the concentration of troops, 
the transport of material to the front, and the 
purchase, despatch, and supply of pack animals was 
quite worthy of any European army, not excluding 



122 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

the German. As the campaign wore on, and there 
seemed to be no pressing needs, there was a notice- 
able slackness, especially on the lines of communica- 
tion. But generally speaking, the total result was 
good, and should certainly have astonished the most 
sanguine of Turkey's military critics. On the Greek 
side everything was rather lamentable, and it was 
evident that the spirit of order had not as yet im- 
planted itself in the Hellenic mind. The army was 
fairly quickly brought together, but nearly all other 
details were neglected, and the most that can be 
said in mitigation of the general dibacle was that it 
was not wholly unexpected. 

That the war was protracted as long as it was 
was due mainly to the slowness of the Turkish 
advance and to the pluck of a few of the Greek 
commanders, notably Smolenski. 

The conclusion then, from a military point of 
view, was as follows : neither army was in reality 
mobile, but the Turks showed themselves distinctly 
capable of mobility. They are, to start with, good 
fighters, they are very enduring, they have immense 
marching powers, they carry nothing but their rifle, 
ammunition, and water-bottle (at a pinch they will 
dispense with this last), they are contented with the 
hardest life, they neither need nor want stimulants 
nor pleasure, and they enjoy battle. Add to this, if 
you can, really brave, capable and acceptable officers, 
increase the organisation to the utmost pitch of pro- 
ficiency (this is merely a mechanical matter — vide the 



XIV CONCLUSION 123 

progress of the Russians) — impart a thorough moral 
and physical training to all ranks, and you will have 
the most exceptionally strong army that has ever been 
let loose on the earth. When the next Alexander or 
the next Napoleon arises he will find this out, and 
he will lead either the Chinese or the Turks. If 
he does so, he will obtain all that his ambition 
may desire, and the world can only pray that he 
may be sufficiently civilised not to desire wholesale 
devastation. 

There are in the Balkan Peninsula three influences 
at work, none as yet very strong. The first is Pan- 
hellenism, rather superficial and extraneous and not 
very sound. The second is Panislamism, not by any 
means effete, and latterly greatly invigorated, but 
of too despotic a tendency and too passive a nature 
to obtain big results nowadays. The third is Pan- 
slavism, quiet and absorbmg, and not as yet much 
seen, but comprehensive in scope and diplomatic 
in action. This is the little cloud ; and it would 
be well to prevent the union of Behemoth with 
Leviathan while there is time. 

Life on the whole was very pleasant during the 
campaign : there were no luxuries and very few 
comforts, but the Turkish officers were hospitable 
and agreeable, and far better informed on ordinary 
topics than is generally believed. I had travelled 
before in Armenia, so I knew some of them, and 
introductions are easily effected. You meet a man 
who has a brother whose friend you heard of in 



124 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY CHAP. 

Erzerum two years ago. That is sufficient excuse 
for the man to come and call on you at six o* clock 
next morning with four of his friends and to remain 
three hours. Needless to say there was always as 
much society as one desired. The Young Turkish 
Party was well represented ; but at present it seems 
to be more talk than anything else, at any rate in 
Turkey. It has, however, a thorough appreciation 
of the benefits of a pure administration, a full ex- 
chequer, and a good education ; unfortunately, when 
offered a pashalic, the most rabid reformer generally 
reverts to the ideas of his ancestors. When he gets 
the chance, however, he governs wisely, as a rule, and 
tries to be honest, which is a beginning, fhe old 
Turk, on the other hand, is disappearing ; he feels 
behindhand whether in war or in peace, so he shuts 
himself up in his serai, and his children belong to 
the new generation. 

There are two things to which I have not alluded 
— one is the incident of Osman Pasha and the other 
the German influence during the war. 

Osman was sent out from Constantinople towards 
the end of April to take over the command-in-chief. 
Just as he was leaving Salonika he was recalled. 
The whole history of this turned on a Palace 
intrigue, which bears so slightly on the campaign, and 
which affected its course so little, that it has seemed 
best to leave it alone : the affair is probably already 
forgotten everywhere except at Yildiz, and may 
therefore repose in the oblivion it deserves. 



XIV CONCLUSION 125 

The other thing, the German influence, is more 
important, not so much from the military results it 
produced as from the way it shows the general 
tendency of thought and attraction in the Ottoman 
Empire at the present time. 

The army had, to a great extent, been organised 
on the German systen;, and some Prussian officers 
had held positions of control and direction on the 
general staff. The only German officer in the 
Turkish service who was with the army was Grumb- 
kov Pasha, Inspector-General of Artillery : he re- 
mained six days, and though he did actually take 
Larissa, it was prepared for him and was not a very 
great exploit. On the other hand, there was a 
German military attach^ and no less than six war 
correspondents, all of whom were or had been officers 
in the German army. There was no Russian or 
British military attach^, and Captain von Morgen 
accordingly came in for a good deal of Edhem 
Pasha's confidence. To what extent the Commander- 
in-Chief took his advice it is impossible to say. But 
the main point was the undeniable advance that 
German prestige has made in Turkey during the 
last two years. In 1895 and 1896 I was in Asia 
Minor, and then the words "Ingiliz" or "Russ" 
comprehended the average peasant's whole idea of 
the nations of Europe. Now it is quite different. 
Every one knows what " AUemdn " means — it is the 
friend of Turkey, the country of the great Padishah 
of Firengistan, the place that sends the good cheap 



126 WITH THE TURKISH ARMY IN THESSALY chap. 

wares to Turkey. I remember once riding in to 
Larissa late at night with a Circassian trooper as 
escort, and as we came to the gate in the dark we 
were challenged. ** Who goes there ? '' cried the 
sentry. "Alleman Pash^,*' gratuitously yelled out 
my man. As I did not know the parole I decided 
to leave the Pasha part of it alone till I got inside, 
but I called out, " Ben Ingilizim " (I am English), 
The gate was opened and we rode in and found the 
guard turned out. I asked the lieutenant why, ex- 
pecting that the five brevets conferred on me by my 
trooper were the reason. Not a bit of it. " Effen- 
dim," he said, ** I turned out the guard because I 
thought you were German." 

As a matter of fact, the whole war was very con- 
siderably utilised by the Germans to push forward 
their commerce ; and to a great extent they stepped 
into the places evacuated by the Greek traders in 
Constantinople and the Levant. Several of the 
railways are already in the hands of German com- 
panies, and the army will probably now become 
more German than ever ; so that unless some 
opposition is made, we may really lose what foot- 
hold, political or commercial, we still have in 

Turkey. 

# # # ## # # # 

There remains little more to say. On the even- 
ing of May 22nd, as there appeared no likelihood 
of a steamer putting into Volo for some days, I 
started off for Larissa with Captain Ryder, who 



XIV CONCLUSION 127 

had come out before the battle of Domoko, Weldon 
and Sonnenburg deciding to remain at Volo a little 
longer. We drove all night, and getting to Larissa 
early in the morning, pushed on the same evening 
to Elassona. There we got a new carriage, and 
drove by Serfije and Cojani to Sorovitch, where we 
caught the train to Salonika. The weather was 
extremely hot and the country seemed quiet, and in 
some places the corn was being cut. Many of the 
Albanian volunteers were going back home, but 
they were far outnumbered by the fresh regular 
troops that were pouring along to the front. To a 
great extent the peasants were occupied with trans- 
port, but in the towns the people were following 
their ordinary business. I stayed a night in Sa- 
lonika, to say good-bye to Mr. Blunt and my other 
friends, and caught the Orient Express at Nisch 
next evening. Three days afterwards, on May 29th, 
I arrived in London, after a very interesting ten 
weeks' excursion. 



APPENDIX 



SYNOPSIS OF EVENTS 

Feb, 15. Colonel Vassos lands in Crete. 

March i. Turks and Greeks concentrate troops in Macedonia, 

Epirus and Thessaly. 

„ 15. Headquarters Turkish armies fixed at Elassona and 
Janina. Greek headquarters at Larissa and Arta. 

April I, Six Turkish divisions in Macedonia, two in Epirus. 

Four Greek divisions jn all Thessaly. 

8. Raid of Grevena. 



>> 









13.1 
14. J 



" _^! \ Incidents at Shuma. 



16. Incursion at Karya, 

17. Declaration of war. Greeks advance from Arta. 

18. Battle of Milona. Fighting at Skumpa, Damasi and 

Karya. 



" ^' \ Bombardment of Kritiri. 
„ 21. J 



21. Blattle of Mati. Fighting at Rapsani. 

23. Bombardment of Katerina. 
Greeks advance on Pentepigadia. 

24. Capture of Tyrnavos. Advance of 6th Division. 

25. Capture of Larissa. 
27. Capture of Zarkos. 

K 



> 



V 



I30 APPENDIX 

Capture of Trikkala. Greeks retire on Arta. 

First battle of Velestino. Turks retire on Gherli. 

Reinforcements to Gherli. 

Capture of Karditsa. 

7th Division arrives at Elassona. 9th Division ad- 
vances from Diskata. 

Action at Pharsala. Second battle of Velestino. 

Capture of Pharsala and Velestino. 

Turks advance on Arta. 

Capitulation of Volo. 

Action of Halmyros. 

Edhem Pasha in command of Turkish forces in 
Thessaly and Epirus. Turks advance from Metzovo. 

Capture of Halmyros. 1 

I 

Battle of Domoko. 

Capture of Domoko. Action at Phurka Pass. Con- 
nection established between Turkish armies of 
east and west. Truce made at Arta. 

Action of Lamia. Truce made near Lamia. 

Armistice signed in Thessaly and Epirus. 

8th Division arrives at Elassona. 

Armistice prolonged during peace negotiations. 



April 29. 


» 


30- 


May 


I. 


» 


3. 


)> 


4. 


» 


5- 


)> 


6. 


>> 


7- 


» 


8. 


>> 


II. 


>> 


14. 


>> 


15- 


>> 


17. 


» 


18. 


>» 


19. 


>) 


20. 


»> 


24. 


Tune 


3. 



THE END 



Richard Clay and Sons, Limited, 
london and bungay. 



J -^ 






OCT z 4 




OCT z 4 1940 




OCT z 4 1940